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Help, I've just implemented a PMO!

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Part 1 of a farce in 6 parts. Why not help 'David' by posting your answers below?

Dear all,

I’ve just gone and implemented a PMO. We did it for really good reasons. Project and programme control was rather hit and miss, so we thought this would be the answer.

Unfortunately, all that seems to have happened is that we’re spending a lot more on our project and programme management overhead, we have no better performance (not that I can  measure it!) – but we do have some great standards, templates and process guides.

I’m getting all kinds of stick for doing what I thought was the right thing. Help - where did I go wrong?

Yours Etc

Part 2 - Help, I've just implemented a project management tool!

Part 3 - Help, I've just trained everyone!


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  1. David Dunning
    David Dunning 03 April 2013, 04:10 PM

     Hi Adrian, I really thought this would be a simple case of bringing in someone who knew what to do, but it appears to be much more than that. I thought my scope was clear, but I think there is more to providing effective project delivery than setting up a PMO. I thought this group would be self-contained, I did not realise we would need to sell the PMO internally, and continually make clear the benefits to an organisation that keeps forgetting. I had thought I could do this big bang, but it appears we have too much on for people to take all this in at one sitting, so I should have thought over an approach to this rather than get someone in and work it out form there. Is there a "good" communications plan? Well - I put this on our intranet, and we did an email to everyone - why is it that people don't read stuff I send them? You mentioned no metrics - so how about % projects on schedule, rate of risk clearance, rate of change request clearance, number and trend of change requests. I just don't have information infrastructure to provide this. Right - I know what to do next. Thank you so much, you've galvanised me for tomorrows report!!!  

  2. Martin Samphire
    Martin Samphire 03 April 2013, 03:59 PM

    DavidI worry about a PMO being set up for the sake of "better project control".  Better project control is not a business outcome measure of improvement.  Where is the link to business objectives?  And although templates and standards are one aspect of maturity, where is the business engagement - they rarely get engaged with standards, forms and templates - unless it is their idea.  AND putting in place a successful PMO is an organisational change project - so let's go back to basics and treat it as such.  And the 3 rules of success for organisational change projects is engagement, engagement and engagement.You say performance has not improved (and you cannot measure it) - Did you insist on establishing a quantified measure of performance which becomes the baseline against which improvement is measured - you surely needed it anyway to size the problem that drives the business case?  Did you create a Target Operating Model (TOM) for the future PMO which includes future performance measures - outcomes that will benefit the business.  Did you engage the business in the design of the TOM?  I would then use these to seek real engageemnt of the business and what they see as the priorities to improve - keep feeding back performance against the baseline.  If they want standards and templates, all well and good.  If not I wouldn't let them see the light of day until it is "their idea" and they see it as addressing the "problem". Business change and Improvement has to be demand led, not supply led.  A successful PMO has to be "wanted" not forced on people.  So back to engagement as the priority task needed - at all stages of maturity and improvement.Good luck.

  3. Adrian Pyne
    Adrian Pyne 03 April 2013, 02:54 PM

    I echo the sage comments of other contributors. We could probably do with a little more info. But it sounds like design and maybe implementation may be at fault.Some more questions....Is there a clear purpose for the PMO?Is its scope clear?Is its range of services clear?For whom are these services, e.g. what does it do for PMs as well as other management?Is there a development plan for the PMO, i.e. it cannot get up to F1 performance overnight, so what are the steps and what outcomes and value comes from each step?Is there a "good" communications plan? E.g. do the PMs know what the PMO is for? what it can do for them? How will the usual fear and distrust of the PMO is to be dispelled?You mentioned no metrics, how about % projects on schedule, rate of risk clearance, rate of change request clearance, number and trend of change requests. I hope this helps.As they read this, numerous consultants are pounding on your door. Good luck!    

  4. David Dunning
    David Dunning 03 April 2013, 01:22 PM

    Dear Uncle Chris,wise words indeed, thankyou, I think I know what my next mission needs to be.Am now looking forwards to the lamb casserole this evening for dinner.David

  5. Chris Walters
    Chris Walters 03 April 2013, 12:45 PM

    Dear David,The wise shepherd knows that the only time he can count his flock is when they are all rounded up.* Do you know how many sheep (projects) you have?* Are you sure they are the right ones and are all yours?* Do you have enough food (resources) for them all to flourish?Sometimes when a sheep is diseased, the wise shepherd knows that to protect the viability of the flock, a hard decision has to be made.In the project management world, you might like to think of the portfolio manager as the wise shepherd... maybe "doing the right projects" comes before "doing the projects right"?Agony Uncle Chris

  6. David Dunning
    David Dunning 03 April 2013, 11:55 AM

    Thankyou for your prompt reply Uncle Chris :-)I set this up about 3 months ago by hiring a very expereinced PMO Manager, funded by the FD who trusts my judgement.What does the PMO do? - Weill, the chap I on boarded brought along some great templates and standards which he said were PRINCE2, and we're currently trying to get everyone to use them.We have a whole raft of projects which come in from all directions, us project managers and now the PMO just has to cope - since we have more capacity now, expectation has only risen about delivery successes.What do your project managers think of the PMO? Well, so far the PMO is a bit of a pain as its pointing out all the things we are doing 'wrong', and is just chasing around trying to status everything all the time.I didn't expect this, I'm sure I'll think of something else to address these issues for tomorrow. Any suggestions as to what I might do first?David 

  7. Chris Walters
    Chris Walters 03 April 2013, 11:36 AM

    Dear David,I think you'll get a lot of help when you give us some more information - maybe these would be good starters:* How long ago was the PMO implemented?* What does the PMO do?* Who championed the PMO and what is their relationship with the sponsorship of your organisation's projects?* What do your project managers think of the PMO?Very much looking forward to see how this unfolds...Agony Uncle Chris