Wednesday, December 31, 2008

PMBOK 4th Edition poll

The Fourth Edition of the PMBOK(R) Guide comes out today. Rich Maltzman is taking a poll of PMs and would like to know if you *care* about this, and your reasons for caring or not. Using the following scale:
1. Exhilarated, Overjoyed
2. Excited, Very Interested
3. Mildly interested
4. Passing interest
5. Doesn't mean anything to me

...please provide your rating number and a very quick rationale as to why you chose that number. Do you refer to the PMBOK Guide often? Are you using it to study for the PMP Exam and wonder how the test changes?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Bi-Polar PMO

In a recent special edition of the Project Management, I readan article titled “An Empirically Grounded Search for a Typology of Project Management Offices.” Now normally I stay away from articles with words like typology and empirically, but it sounded like someone had figured out why PMOs are so different. That got my interest.

Well, short story – they haven’t figured out, but they can point out some factors that result in different types of PMOs. I won’t go into everything and steal the fun, but there are a few things that just hit home and I had that “AH HA!” moment. PMOs aren’t normal we’re bi-polar.

We are not individually bi-polar (although I have had my moments). Rather the universe of PMOs trends towards an all or nothing distribution. For those of you lucky enough to have wiped statistics from your mind, a bi-polar distribution looks like a “U” with the peaks at the ends while a normal distribution is like an upside down U – aka bell curve.

Well we are not a bell-curve group. And that was really my moment of realization. I’ve worked in PMOs that had authority, control of projects, project managers and ones that had none of the above. This has been a source of personal frustration. Knowing that an empowered PMO can truly help an organization and being stuck with producing status reports is unpleasant.

The writers talk about what factors lead to placing a PMO on one end of the spectrum or the other. It’s very helpful if you are looking for a PMO manager job as these are very good predictors. Some of the factors are the size of the organization, the maturity (CMM and Project Management), and matrixed v. non-matrixed. As for the poles, they are what you would think.

I would refer to one pole as the “emasculated” pole. Here the PMO has no PMs, no authority and is relegated to producing status reports and bugging everyone else. Did that sound biased? On the other pole we have the PMO that owns responsibility for the projects; has decision-making authority and contains the PMs who are running the projects. This is the “partner” pole.

Unfortunately, the authors do not tell us how a PMO manager can change this on an individual level or how we can bring this distribution back to normal. Or even why it is like this. I think that we have still not arrived where the PMO is a recognized and appreciated part of an organization. Each of us is responsible for this whether we run a reporting PMO or a participating PMO. Those of us at the reporting pole have a challenge to excel and push the envelope. Those on the other pole are challenged to constantly improve.

I see our future as a normal distribution with the average PMO being fully engaged and participating in organization management. Project management is management, and the PMO can become the center of management excellence. No other organization is better suited to this role than we are.