Friday, July 14, 2006

Marketing Your PMO - Positioning Project Management

First a comment on some articles in the June 1, 2006 issue of CIO Magazine. The cover story “When Failure is Not an Option” is about how AG Edwards is making huge strides by improving their Project Management capabilities. Great stuff there for you, both in terms of practical advice on the how of getting this done. Too many people focus on the “what.” Also, showing your management that AgEdwards is doing this might give you some more ammunition in advancing PM in your organization. In the second article Sari Kalin talks about Portfolio Management. The article is short, easy to read and gives some excellent practical advice and spotlights Eastman Kodak’s work in Portfolio Management. This one is great for printing, circle a few key points and drop it off on your boss’ desk with a “thought you might be interested” comment.

With that as segue; I want to talk a little about the shameless promotion of the PMO and Project Management. Personally, I am not very good at this, but this is an essential part of your job as director. You are trying to institute a change in your company and the name of that change is Project Management. Even if you have a fairly fertile environment and a high maturity level, you still have to get out there and talk it up.

How many of you just said “yech?” Believe me I understand; Project Management is a good thing, that’s obvious right. All we should have to do is demonstrate success and everyone will see and want to implement Project Management immediately. As we internet geeks say – ROFL. For the most part, people will attribute your success to you, luck or some other factor. This is not to say that they do not appreciate it or harbor any ill-will to you.

We have been taught from the beginning that success is achieved through hard work, skill, perseverance and sometimes luck. When is the last time someone thanked a process for their success? OK, except for those infomercials that show you how to make millions in real-estate or surfing the internet. In our minds, success is a personal thing; even group successes are achieved through the personal contributions of the team members. We’ve grown up with great personal examples of success - heroes. This is another reason why the Hero Culture (see my July 3rd entry) is so prevalent. Admittedly, it’s not a bad thing for you to be associated with success, what you want to do is leverage the success to show people how Project Management can help them achieve success as well.

What you’re up against

Here is an example of the mental barriers you will face. Take a look at how computers are used. Today it is generally recognized that most workers can and do benefit from the use of computers. In particular, office workers get more work done with higher accuracy and in less time. (Of course we are now expected to do twice as much work in half the time). When mainframe computers and later personal computers came on the scene, they were widely resisted. There were still plenty of people doing their spreadsheets with calculators and typing memos on typewriters. Computers did not achieve success, they enable success. They were a lever that enabled people to do more, better, faster. Project Management is the same thing.

Position Project Management as an Enabler

When you talk about the successful completion of projects, spread the credit wide and excessively to every person involved. With this praise throw in phrases like “our PM processes enabled the team to identify and resolve issues before they became critical.” or “PM helped team members focus their efforts on the critical features that we delivered on-time on-budget.” And so on. If you can get any quotes from people – get them and publish them. Don’t force anything, you do not want false testimonials, you want something that the team members will repeat in 6 months without you around. The message here is that success does come from hard work AND Project Management gives you an advantage.

Position Project Management as a Tool

This is kind of an enabler too, but you will want to use the work tool, or toolkit. This model may work better for some people than the less tangible enabler model. In this case, you would rephrase the quotes above to something like: “Team members used the Critical Items log to ensure that they delivered the greatest value.” Not a great one, but you get the idea. An analogy here that I’ve use a lot is that you can hammer in a nail with a rock, a hammer, or a nail gun. We are tool users who are always seeking better tools, when you position PM as a tool, your message will resonate well.

Position Project Management as a Time-Saver

Personally, I like to position PM as a time-saver. My thought is that when you do a project, you will do the PM process one way or another. You will have to know what your issues are, you will have to know due dates, costs, resources, etc. You can either spend your time creating a method with each project, or you can use one that is proven to work, and change it as needed to meet your needs. So the quotes here are “the team saved significant time by prioritizing tasks using the Critical Items Log.”

Ultimately, you want to look for every opportunity to promote PM, but to promote different aspects and capabilities. You know your culture and the people you work with, some approaches will resonate, others will not. Part of your job will be to find this out and change your message to be meaningful. Don’t think that this ever ends, you will want to keep trying new avenues of communication and messages as things will constantly change and you will need to adapt – but you knew that!


Anonymous said...

Excellent write up Derry.

I am currently working on a project where we will be introducing Prject Management and PMO and I have just started a blog about it at

I have mentioned you in my blog and will continue to refer your blog as i am finding your approach very relevant to my scenario.

Unknown said...

"Hi There,

Very Nice post on PMO.That was very helpfull.keep posting"