Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Hired Guns and the Aspirin Solution

A great PMO can not be built from a template. Each PMO is a project. There are many different techniques that can be used. As the PMO manager, you are the cook, architect, conductor for this unique entity. Pick what is best for you. Introduce at the pace that is best for your company.

Many PMO stories begin with some high level executive deciding that a PMO is needed (there are TONs of triggers for this). The exec then selects some poor volunteer from the company and calls in a hired gun - a PROFESSIONAL (read consultant) who knows project management!

The Professional rides into town (cue spaghetti Western music). He has years of experience, comprehensive experience and a goal to make the guy who writes the checks happy. The goal is NOT to create a PMO directly, but to make the pain that the executive is feeling go away. Or at least make it look like it is - this is the "aspirin" solution.

So our hero comes in, interviews executives, holds meetings and Viola out comes a 200 slide PowerPoint that solves everything. Along with this PowerPoint comes a set of manuals that Arnold Schwarzenegger couldn't lift on his best day. The PowerPoint and the manuals are thinly customized versions of the same deck and documentation given to every other customer who needed a PMO.

I know that sounds cynical - but I’ve heard this story too many times. Many times you, the PMO manager, are then left carrying the ball (or hauling the methodology as the case may be). With one small adjustment, you can change this from an unpleasant situation where you are cleaning up the mess to a great starting or changing your PMO. The change is fairly simple.

Take control of the implementation. It’s that simple, really. Now, that also means that you need to be very involved in the study and work closely with the consultant. Make sure that there is an implementation plan. Interview the stakeholders and understand their problems. Prioritize these problems. Put the problems into the implementation schedule and plan to knock them out.

Take the voluminous documentation and keep the only copy. Through each step in implementation search the documentation and mine it for the few diamond(s) that will be useful. Find a process and rip it down to its essentials – then strip it more and find that one gem. Polish and cut that gem so it is perfect for you and your company and then implement.


RESROC said...

Hey Derry,

This is Rob Corser. Please call me as soon as you can at 706-315-4568.


Anonymous said...

Hi Derry,

I'm interested in publishing some of your articles on PM Hut. PM Hut is a very large database of categorized project management articles. In case you're interested then please use the "Contact" form on PM Hut and we'll take it from there.

Thanks a lot for your time!

Mike C said...

I agree. It is important the PMO fit into the company culture and processes. Adding any PM structure into a company creates a change. Aligning it with the current company values and operating methods will make it easier to get implemented and used.

One of the first filters that I put into place when implementing a PMO is to define and list the current strategic business goals. Using those to rank and prioritize the requested projects allows management to see and communicate what is important to them. This also provides a way to minimize the "ego" driven projects with little or no business value.

This ranking is not only valuable to the senior management, but also provides the functional manager and the people working on the project with a tool to understand the trade-offs, impacts, and value to the company. This linkage makes it easier to sell the additional structure and work required to implement and maintain a PM structure.
Department of Doing

Anonymous said...

Hi, here's a question for you and your readers...What's the best option for certifying that and organisation/department complies with PM proceedings?

I've only seen that individuals get PM certified. However, individuals come and go within a department, in charge of IT projects, for example. Is it possible for that department (or for the organisation as a whole) to obtain a certification that it follows the proper PM processes and proceedings as it should?


Thush said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...


Nice post.. as always...

Im puzzled with something .. When an organisation impliment ISO standards how do we posision the PMO in that organisation? What I see is ISO standars for Software projects is only for the project quality assuarance process.. It doesnt give a full process to manage all the projects.. Could you please explain.

Unknown said...

Another way to future proof your career is to always keep acquiring new skills and get certified. PMP Certification is grt if you're at a project management level or aspire to be in has a great free test if you'd like to gauge your project management knowledge.The PMP Certification