Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Quick thoughts on a PMI research paper on PMOs

I just finished my first reading of a great study titled: The Multi-Project PMO: A Global Analysis of the Current State of Practice. I recommend that you take the time to look this over. There are a lot of interesting findings. It will take a while to fully understand them all (at least for me). However, I did see two points that I think are vital. I am glad to see a study that reinforces them to some extent.

It’s about people. I know I harp on this – I think it is vital to a PMO. The study talks about 50% of PMOs being “questioned.” One key finding relates to the performance of a PMO and the expertise of the PMO staff (practitioners) – not the project managers, the PMO people. While not exactly an epiphany, the finding is “Expertise is critical to PMO performance.” If performance is being questioned, it follows that the greater the expertise – the greater the performance and then the less questioning.

It is about YOUR PMO. One thing that the study repeats throughout is the variability of the findings. There is not a lot of correlation between the variables (company size, number of projects, PMO organization…). There is some, and that’s important to look at. The lack of correlation tells us that what you do with your PMO in your company is really what matters the most. Don’t try to implement a cookie cutter PMO. Know your stakeholders – all of them. Understand what their pain points are. Know where they need help and attack that. If you fully customize your solution you can succeed.

Maybe we will get to the point where PMOs are implemented by the book. Where there is a checklist that everyone fills out and that determines how a PMO is built and run. I guess it is our job to move us there. (Personally, when we get there, I’ll be somewhere else.) Until that time, we can think of ourselves as craftsmen (craftspersons). We have tools and materials, but the work that we do for this one PMO, this one time, is what matters.


Anonymous said...

Does the 'expertise in a PMO' part relate to fact that a PMO is essentially 'Jack of all trades'. From Reporting, QA, Govenance,Risk Management, Financial management, Process Improvement, Change Control and the obligatory taking of meetings , I seem to do it all but be questioned constantly about my qaulifications to manage this.
So I decided to specialise/expertise in financial management, I don't get a lot of questions on any of the above aspects of a PMO ever since I became a qualified accountant.
By the way good article!

Derry Simmel said...

In what I'm seeing lately, I think you have the right approach. Specialization is a great way to go. As PM and PMO skills integrate with management and become more widespread, we (PMOer and PMs) have to step up our game. As you did.

I'm going to write about an article on PMOs published in the PMI Journal. I recommend reading it,some very interesting information.