The March issue of Project included a robust challenge from David Shannon on the role and value of Project Management Offices. The article and some of the counter-arguments are recreated on the Project Offices blog.
As you might expect, the defence from the PMO community has been particularly vocal, alongside the blog post, we’ve received a number of strongly worded emails defending the role of the PMO and the April issue of Project features several letters responding to David’s piece.
David is a respected professional, an honorary fellow and one of the breakthrough thinkers behind the APM Governance Specific Interest Group. His views are expressed from a position of considerable credibility, and there is no doubt he’s raised an issue close to many people’s hearts.
Critical Path; the column for which his piece was written, is deliberately designed to allow project management views, however strong, to be aired. The brief to its authors is to simply get their view across. It may be something that is long considered and well researched; it may be an observation, a bugbear or a gut feeling. Above all it aims to trigger debate that will allow the profession to move forward.
The mainstream media regularly puts project management in the spotlight – usually negatively – but it usually has not the time, space, expertise or appetite to investigate the issues fully, and so the lingering (erroneous) public perception is that projects in the UK invariably fail.
Project enjoys an independent editorial policy which allows it the freedom to explore these issues in some detail. Whilst APM agrees the policy, the editor James Simons implements it as appropriate. This allows it to praise and criticise in equal measure and not turn a blind eye to issues within the profession. A relentlessly myopic positivity towards project management in the magazine would see it falling into a similar trap as the mainstream media does – and also make it a terribly boring read!
What Project offers is balance; it aims to see all sides of an argument to allow the readership to make informed decisions about the issue at hand. All articles and news stories offer the right of reply and we positively encourage people to send in their thoughts. So, neither APM nor Project ‘hate’ PMOs, but we do recognise the need for issues like these to be debated.
That the profession creates this debate is a signal that it is increasingly confident and mature. The principle upon which APM’s new website is built is that if we don’t allow these discussions to happen in our ‘space’, they will inevitably find a place to happen elsewhere, be that online, by the coffee machine in your office, or in the board room. The profession needs this debate in order to thrive and if we the profession can’t solve these problems, who can?