PMO Visibility is the Key to Success #pmot

Written by Guest Blogger Wayne Caccamo, Sr Director, Product Marketing, Oracle

Do all projects, big and small, flow through your project management office (PMO)?  Or at least are all projects that matter to the organization under the jurisdiction of the PMO?  Well, they should.  If many are, but the real big ticket, high dollar projects that are sometimes the baby projects of some executive in the organization seem to go to some specialized group targeted by said executive, that’s when you may have problems.

Separate is Not Equal

It’s not wise to segregate like that.  I worked at one very large aviation and engineering company in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, leading all internal web development projects just prior to helping them build their PMO.  There was an internal struggle as to who would be the web project provider between our group, the Internet Team, and the other group, the Graphic Design Team.  It was a truly strange internal political struggle.  Our team eventually came out on top in the sense that all web development projects were channeled through us. Nevertheless, that type of struggle should never have happened and it left our internal customers in the company unclear about where projects were being channeled and unable to see a consistent project management process.

The same can be said for the PMO and the projects that are allowed to run through it.  If you have a PMO in place, or are building one, then all projects should at least run through it – if not run by it.  All projects should be tracked by the PMO and status reporting should be run up through the PMO, even if the project ends up being managed elsewhere within the organization.  If the high visibility projects aren’t even being channeled through the PMO for documentation and tracking, then you have a real problem brewing.

PMO Promotion

It is the responsibility of the PMO leadership to properly promote the PMO and help ensure its viability and visibility.  Its viability is maintained by implementing the following:

Proper and repeatable processes to consistently and successfully manage projects

  • Consistent templates for managing project and reporting status to customers and executive management

  • Suitable hiring practices that ensure competent, experienced project managers are in place to lead projects for the organization

  • Proper compensation plans to retain good PM resources

  • Adequate training and on-boarding programs and processes to ensure that PMs are well-trained and up to speed on the PMO processes and practices

The PMO’s visibility is maintained by doing the following:

Reporting project portfolio status on a regular basis and in a meaningful and useful format so that executive management realizes the PMO’s value

  • Implementing solid PMO practices to ensure that the high-visibility customers are happy and referencable and the high-visibility projects are successful

  • Inviting executive leadership to regularly attend weekly PMO meetings and sit in on project status meetings for the critical, high-visibility projects

  • Managing project budgets thoroughly and reporting budget status up through executive leadership to show bottom-line PMO and Project Manager value

The PMO Director, as the leader of the PMO, must be a strong leader with pull inside the organization to ensure that these things happen.  Otherwise, the PMO runs the danger of becoming obsolete or, at the very least, insignificant. As a result, the mission critical projects will bypass the PMO and assigned to special teams outside the PMO’s jurisdiction.  Executive leadership must see value and ensuring that happens begins with the PMO leadership.

Summary

I’ve personally helped setup PMO’s and I’ve personally watched PMO’s fail.  They’ve always failed for one of the following three reasons:

  • Lack of strong, focused leadership

  • Lack of repeatable process

  • Lack of executive leadership support

The PMO must be formed and move forward with all three of these in place to ensure it’s success.

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