Saturday, December 02, 2006

Week 13 (Building a Program Management Office)

Well full week back after the Thanksgiving break. This was another travel week as we installed a PM at one of the project locations. The PMO has now doubled in size to two!! I think the new PM will work out great as she is working in the location where all the business teams are located and those are the people who have to live with what we implement.

This week did once again cause me to think about roles and identities. What is the PMO? What is a project manager? It’s easy to say “it depends”, but when there are people and projects involved, we need to have a clear definition. I have already learned that if there is more than one boss, there is more than one definition of your role. This is doubly true for consultants.

In bringing on the new PM, I am concerned that she is being under (used/appreciated?). In this case, the PM is certainly capable of managing a large part of the project and she could certainly provide some very useful advice and counsel to the leadership team. Because of the perceptions, this is just not likely. The perception is that the PM is there to do the support work, and that’s it. I brought the new PM to the board meeting and I was asked by the business lead why I brought her –as in “she is not this level so she doesn’t need to be here.” This pretty much defined at least our starting point.

Again, it comes down to people and I have a real problem here. Clearly, we (the PMO) were brought on because of our knowledge and experience, yet this is rarely sought and often unwanted. Why would anyone seek a particular set of expertise and then ignore it or leave it on the shelf. It is like buying a high-powered computer and doing nothing but web surfing. Strange, what does this mean? Well I have a theory.

I think that the problem is one of comfort and understanding. Using the high-powered computer example, if all you know is web surfing, then that is what you’ll do. They see the computer as just able to web surf faster and better, and do not see that they can produce multi-media presentations or do their taxes or run a small business – or even better – play the latest graphics-intensive games. So the challenge there is to raise awareness. The second challenge is to make them comfortable with the tools and techniques of project management. So how do I go about that???

Well, first thought is that I have to become more assertive and aggressive. I can’t play a passive and supporting role; I have to take an active and leadership role. And that will certainly piss someone off. I don’t seem to be having a lot of luck in the persuasion department, so I’m going to take some things on myself (more work, but hopefully more success) and I’m going to push for some other things. One of which will be to have full-blown planning session for one of the projects – that could be successful, but not if everyone comes in with a bad attitude – which they will if I do this wrong. Well, this is the time of year when everyone is supposedly in a good mood; maybe I can leverage some of that. Ho Ho Ho.

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