Sunday, September 16, 2012

Fostering Partnerships in PSOs – A Response

I received the following response from a colleague to my blog, “Fostering partnerships in PSOs”:

“Asking Sales to meet with a Project Management Office (PMO) when they are 85% sure of a sale - is a little "out of bounds" in my opinion.  The PMO should focus on delivering valuable tools/services - to meet the business needs. If Sales (or any other organization) brings forth an idea, I don’t think it should be stipulated on a percentage of opportunity.  I am also not saying a PMO should be an order taker (as you note in this and earlier posts it’s a team effort), but at some point the decision/budget/authority to move forward with an initiative to improve the organization - must come from Sales (or other internal org) responsible for growing the top line or improving the bottom line.”
Agreement on a Partnership, or Failure
Let me begin by saying that I did speak to my colleague who commented on my blog. First, I agree that the PMO in a Professional Services Organization (PSO) should not be the final decision maker whether a project begins or not. However, a certain mark must be agreed upon and met between Sales and the PSO to begin to be involved in the initiation phase of a project. Otherwise, the only things that will be fostered are bad will and failure. The PSO must realize that a qualified sale, especially one that increases revenues and may add to the bottom line of the PSO itself, must be planned. Sales must realize that the PSO should become involved when the customer has come as close to being a viable project as possible. If the PSO comes to every sales call, the PSO cannot meet its revenue budget that it will be held accountable to.
In the discussion I had with the commenter, I gave an example of an experience I had in a PSO. The salesperson came to the PSO saying that there was a potential client that wanted to have a meeting with us regarding a “very hot” sale. I went to the meeting anticipating a planning session; what I experienced was a meeting where the “very hot” sale was a request for my project plan (which I did not provide).  So, what is needed is an agreed upon measurement between the two organizations that must be met by both organizations before proceeding.
What We Agreed On
When my colleague and I discussed my article further, my colleague mentioned that what is needed by the Project Manager (PM) is “gravitas.” I stated that the PM must not only be able to communicate, but must not shy away from confrontation or delivering bad news as soon as either presents itself. The PM must communicate not only to Sales or Senior Management, but also to the project sponsor, client, users, and especially the project team.  Take it from a PM that has failed in the past: a PM must be able to communicate and confront. By the way, when I say confront I don’t mean in a physical or menacing way. Even the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) states that the best way to meet an issue is to confront it straight on.
I am open to discussion at any time on these blogs or anything else related to project management you would like to explore.  If you would like to comment about this blog, please do so by posting on this blog or by responding in an email at Benny A. Recine.You may inspire a blog article. I look forward to your comments.

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