Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"I want a PMO!" - Validate What They Mean

Clients will often state that they want me to come in and help them create a PMO. Unfortunately, that is all that they say. It is like me saying, “I want to be a better project manager.” It is a pretty vague statement. When the decision is made to create a PMO, there is some general reason why that is happening. It is important that you uncover those meanings.

For instance, a client had recently stated that a PMO was being created in a division and that all of the certain projects of a certain type would be brought into the PMO. At the time, there were 150 of these projects identified in the group. The group also had 6 project managers who already had a portfolio of 30 projects. There were several questions that this posed:
  • What do we mean by “brought into”? Does that mean we own the projects completely or we own the status reporting?
  • Will we get more staff to run these projects?
  • Why do we feel the need to create the PMO?
  • What is the end result of creating the PMO that you envision?
  • Will the PMO be part of the strategic planning of the division or just told to execute the projects?

Unfortunately, not many answers were provided. I compare the explosion of PMO’s to the Six Sigma craze. There was a popular article that stated a Six Sigma Master Black Belt could bring a company an average savings of $2M. Based on the article, many companies went on the hunt to find their Master Black Belt. They approached it as if the person would show up with a $2M check!

I fear that the explosion of PMO’s is due to the same reason. An executive will read an article or see a result published from a company that shows that a PMO increased revenues, decreased cost, and improved efficiencies. Therefore, they conclude that they must have one. In my experience, few executives are willing to make the changes that achieve the results in the article. Change must occur in order for results to be realized.

Faced with the situation above, my suggested course of action follows what is taught in my seminars and books. The path was:
  • Identify what it takes to manage a project in the environment and come up with a percentage of time on average it consumes of a project manager.
  • Apply the percentages to the projects to determine the number of project managers needed.
  • Identify alternate actions should head count not be increased (including not accepting the 150 additional projects)
  • Ensure that the data you are presenting is accurate.

Once all the steps have been completed, meet with the sponsor. Ask for the 30 additional project managers that would be necessary to accept the additional project load. If the answer is no, show the alternatives of what is possible with the current staff (including some of the ideas that I have blogged earlier titled “Do We Have to Own Projects Start to Finish” in May of 2011.) From there, this will take a life of its own. The important part is to ensure that you have validated what they mean when an executive states, “I want a PMO!”

Until next time,



1 comment:

Project Management Professional Certification said...

I liked the information shared. PMP Courses are one of the most reputed and well deserved exams taken.