The Business Driven PMO

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Posted by APM on 16th Feb 2011

The Business Driven PMO

Earlier this week I was fortunate enough to be asked along to the Business Focused PMO Workshop, a full day seminar hosted by Mark Duddy from PMO Works and presented by Mark Price Perry, from BOT International. Mark Price Perry presents the PMO Podcast, is Director of PMO at gantthead and author of Business Driven PMO Setup. It is this book that formed the basis of the workshop and each one of the 25 delegates received the book on arrival.

The workshop was organised into four modules:

PMO Organization: Constituent Oriented vs. Inwardly Focused
PMO Management: Embracing Flexibility vs. Mandating Conformance
PMO Tools: Establishing a PMO Architecture vs. Implementing a Tool
PMO Maturity: Practical Adoption vs. Theoretical Exercises

Before kicking off into the detail, we first heard about some of the more recent research into PMOs, namely stats and figures from The State of the PMO 2010 Survey. One of the most interesting parts of this research was around the rates of PMO failure. Looking back to 2005, 75% of all PMOs closed within 3 years. Fast forward to 2010 and the current rate is 50% closed over the last four years. So the rates of PMO failure are coming down but the fact remains that PMOs do still fail and the rate is still too high! The workshop aimed to address the reasons why PMOs fail and what can be done about these failures.

Mark Price Perry carried out the rest of the days workshop and kicked off with the theory that the PM and PMO community have got it all wrong when it comes to PMO setup and implementation. Strong words but Mark went on to talk about the business driven PMO versus the theory driven PMO and I must admit I totally agree with him. The theory driven PMO in essence is inwardly focused, created after theoretical models and left to run with no real mission, objectives and goals other than manage the projects that comes its way as effectively as they possibly can and to report the progress to management. Sound familiar?

The bottom line is too much focus on the theory of project management and too little focus on the business in which project management is applied

How many times have we also heard the notion that we must sell the PMO to the organisation? In the workshop it was said that we shouldnt be focused on selling the PMO (as a PMO professional are you experienced in sales??) after all do other functions in the business like Legal, Finance and HR have to sell the value of their existence?

Moving forward into PMO Management we looked at the methodology oriented versus the process oriented approach to project management; leadership in PMOs; PMO tools and the PMO architecture (there is life beyond Excel but the key is evolving the PMO architecture); and PMO maturity and assessment. From the beginning and throughout the workshop my mindset about PMO was being challenged and I must admit that has not been done for a while.

Using a combination of case studies, exercises and presentations, delegates were able to take away practical solutions to:

Establishing a business driven PMO
Ensuring leadership team ownership of their PMO through Nemawashi techniques
Explaining the quantified benefits to the organization of their PMO
Designing a PMO architecture
Developing a roadmap for business driven PMO and organizational maturity


Now I cant really do justice to just how effective this workshop was covering all these sections in a day was tough going, there was ALOT of information to take in. Luckily the book is available for anyone wanting to go beyond the theory based PMO and concentrate on making their PMO a real success for the business they work within. (Details below)

Sure there is place for methods and frameworks (P3O, PRINCE2, MoP and so on) but they are not the be all and end all. An effective business structure like the PMO cannot and should not just focus on the mechanics of project management and reporting status to management. They must understand firstly what the business needs from the PMO real objectives like XX savings on the bottom line or increased profits by XX% and then the PMO must work to directly address this. When the business sees the real value by the PMO meeting these objectives, its only then that PMO failure can become a thing of the past.

More About:
Mark Duddy of PMOWorks has worked in IT for more than 20 years, including 8 years in PMO consulting and training. He has built, deployed and managed PMOs for major organisations throughout the UK, Ireland and Europe. Mark has accumulated a wealth of valuable experience in consulting engagements at multiple PMO installations, across diverse sectors including Telecoms, IT and Media.

Mark Price Perry is one of the worlds top PMO subject matter experts. He is a frequent speaker at PPM and PMO conferences, including the keynote address at the Gartner Group PPM Summit. Mr. Perry is the founder of BOT International, a boutique PMO Content Asset and consulting firm, celebrating its 11th anniversary. Prior to BOT International, Mr. Perry had a 17-year career with IBM, including positions as the AS/400 Division Industry Manager based in New York, Asia Pacific Channels Manager based in Tokyo, and the General Manager for Southeast and South Asia based in Singapore. Following IBM, he was the Managing Director of Saville Systems Asia Pacific and later the Vice President of Entrust Greater China. In these executive positions, Mr. Perry had PMOs reporting to him. As a servant-leader in the PMO domain, Mr. Perry hosts the The PMO Podcast, having produced 200 episodes, authors the blog PMO Setup T3, and is a distinguished contributor at gantthead.com. He is also the author of the book, Business Driven PMO Setup; Practical Insights, Techniques, and Case Examples for Ensuring Success.

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