Saturday, April 01, 2006

Building Your PMO – People, Process, Tools – Part II – Processes The PMO as a Professional Services Organization

For the most part, PMOs are staff organizations for the most part. We are a service only unit within the company. We are often perceived as not producing value and many people are less-than-enthusiastic with the forms, methodologies, “bureaucracy” and “paperwork” that we produce. On the flip side, in Circle of Innovation, Tom Peters advocates that “all value comes from Professional Services”. The value of your PMO is in the people who represent it.

We’ve talked about how to put your team together; the next thing is organizing and managing them. Quick word on my management philosophy - I believe people want work to be meaningful, they want to succeed, and they want to be part of a great team. Our job is to put the pieces together to make a great team.

In his book True Professional , David Maister uses to the term professionalism to encompass the ideas of pride in work, commitment to quality, genuine desire to help, and dedication to the interests of clients. (Everything I have read of his has been wonderful – I highly recommend him). Using this as a basis, we can evaluate some of the components of professionalism.

The first component of professionalism is competence. One must have the capability to perform the required service or create the required product to be a professional. If you can’t do the job, you are probably not going to last long, although I have seen some consultants who… well – not us, and not our PMO.

Next component is attitude. A professional is not here “just for the money” they demonstrate care and commitment. Care is the key here, if you and your team do not care, everyone knows – fortunately you wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t care, so that’s a done deal.

Finally professionals have character. There is a set of core values that they consistently demonstrate by their actions. If you cannot be trusted, your in trouble and will be very ineffective. If your customers don’t trust the PMO with their projects, portfolio or team, you cannot do your job. Again, not a problem for us personally, but we do want to make sure that the team has all these attributes in abundance.

Implementing and Managing Professionalism

So how do we get started – obviously the right people will make this a walk in the park (that’s why it’s people, process, tools), but even then you cannot take any of this for granted. I suggest you start with a set of core values. These values must be clearly communicated not just in words, but also through consistent actions. Values cannot be sacrificed to any form of expediency, they are not a fall back position or something to put on your card. If you show that your values are flexible or inconsistent, then you loose all trust and who wants to be like that anyway! Some suggestions on values:

· Teamwork
· Commitment to Learning and Continual Improvement
· Adherence to Standards
· Quality
· Customer Satisfaction
· Communication
· Intolerance of unprofessional behavior and results

Your set will depend on what makes sense for you and your team. We all have different values; different priorities for those values. The important thing is that we remain consistently faithful to our values.

Regardless of your PMOs specific values, I think that implementing and managing a professional organization falls into three main areas. First, professionalism requires a set of standards for behavior, performance, learning, quality, communication and service.

Next, we want everyone associated with the PMO to have the same understanding of these values and what is required to meet acceptable levels. This understanding can only be gained through a combination of training, education, coaching, counseling, and experience.

Finally, like everything else, professionalism must be managed. Progress and performance must be managed by making adjustments, encouraging improvement, and discouraging non-compliance. These activities fall within the purview of management – your job.

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