Sunday, March 12, 2006

Marketing your PMO - Field of Dreams v. Drug Dealer Approaches

I think we are all familiar with the Field of Dreams approach which goes: "If you build it they will come." Under this approach, if you build the perfect PMO or the perfect set of forms or the perfect methodology the world will beat a path to your door. Much like the final scene with lines of cars driving into Ray's field, there you will sit in your office with a line of people hungry for PM wisdom, methodologies, your forms that are paragons of efficiency and meaning. And then - hopefully you wake up. Remember, they have done without you are your "bureaucracy" just fine up to now. You may be lucky and you have the support you need to implement a PMO, and some people may actually recognize the benefit, but there are still a bunch of people out there that do not and too many of us will end up in organizations where there is passive resistance and lip service. Not only does it make the job harder, but it could result in a failure and a bad name for the PMO. I am sure there are plenty of you who work in organizations where PMO is a 4-letter word, and probably because someone tried to build one using the Field of Dreams approach and it failed. Worse, they could have been using the “take your medicine” approach where management insists that everyone use PMO methodologies – because it is good for them, and then proceeds to chase the non-conformers around the building with a teaspoon of PMO trying to catch them and make them swallow it. I am sure there is no one model that will work, so PMO builders need all the tools they can get. My favorite is the “drug dealer” approach.

This is a very simple approach. We (us PMO guys) know that there are many benefits to a PMO – I won’t reiterate them, if you don’t know, you might want to do some more reading J. The problem is getting someone else (the right people) to appreciate those benefits. So, your task is to first discover the pain point(s) of those people – your stakeholders. A good person to start with might be your most vocal opponent. Talk to that person – do NOT talk about project management or PMOs, work to find out what bothers them, what causes them pain. It might be that they never know what their projects are doing, and they don’t trust the people who tell them that everything looks good. Obviously, you need to find something that Project Management / PMOs can help them with. Once you have this understanding, you will need to do some work.

Figure out how a PMO and/or project management can help, and then do it. You have to be careful not to interfere, and you need to make sure that ALL the work is done within the PMO, do not cause any impact on the stakeholder or their team(s). I would suggest that some kind of report or information is a good way to go. In my case, we did an impact analysis of the current project load and what would happen if a certain project was added. Whatever it is, it needs to be something useful and here is the catch – the first one is free. Once your stakeholder experiences some of those PMO benefits, they will want more. As you supply the services or information to the stakeholder, the value will become apparent. By creating something of value, you also create something worth paying for. Whether that payment is support or work or budget, once the benefits are clear and experienced, you will find your work much easier.

Hope this helps.

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