Saturday, September 8, 2012

Fostering Partnerships in PSOs

In any Professional Services Organization (PSO), you want a clear communication channel between Sales and Project Management. As a matter of fact, you want to ensure that your Project Management Office (PMO) or delivery organization has a team mentality. In the scenario I am mentioning, the PMO or delivery organization supports Sales. This type of team mentality must start with Sales understanding what can be supported and what cannot. This is very similar to writing a Statement of Work (SOW) in which you begin with the scope statement and define what it in scope and most importantly, what is not in scope. How is this done and how does a PMO or delivery organization ensure that Sales is not “shooting from the hip” when in front of the customer?

How does Sales know?
It is the responsibility of both Sales and PMO/delivery organization management to meet and begin the educational discussions. Yes, I said both management teams must educate each other. What Sales management must educate the PMO/delivery organization management team on is what Sales is hearing from the customer base. What does the customer base want? What is important to them? What the PMO/delivery organization management must educate the sales management team on is what they can deliver based on the current schedule, and most importantly, how does the PMO/delivery organization fill the customer base’s needs? Let’s assume that the question is not whether the PMO/delivery organization can deliver what the customers are requesting. The most likely discussion should be the challenges in scheduling projects.
What to discuss at management level meetings
There must be some ground rules:
First, Sales will bring only those qualified sales that are at least 80% to 85% certain.  The delivery organization/PMO does not have the time to discuss anything below that certainty level.
Second, the delivery organization/PMO cannot shy away from being creative with regards to scheduling. In other words, the delivery/PMO can schedule multiple project kickoffs during subsequent weeks.  Not all projects will have five straight days of project work for the project team. Most likely, there will be more than one project team, and more than likely, more than one Project Manager (PM).
Third and lastly, both teams must be open to change regarding which projects are worked on and which must be delayed, the delay in the delivery of a piece of software, or even a change in project resources. What I have found in PSOs is to expect just about anything. Especially when you have a short resource bench, you may have to be creative in plugging holes for resources and schedules.
Sharing responsibility for project deliveries
Yes, even Sales have some responsibility for the delivery of the project by helping set expectations and being the communication conduit to the client. The PM has the overall responsibility of project delivery for the PSO. The PM must communicate to both his or her PSO and the client using the reports I’ve discussed in earlier blogs. These include the status report, the issues and risks report, and any change management reports. However, the PM must communicate the issues to the PMO and the salesperson as soon as a critical issue becomes evident.  Sales must be informed because the first complaint telephone call from the client will most likely be made to Sales, then to PMO management. How to confront this critical issue is a discussion between the PM, the PMO, and Sales. Depending on the critical issue, development may also need to be involved. How to deliver the next steps to the client must be agreed upon by all parties.

If you would like to comment about this blog, please do so by responding in an email at Benny A. Recine, or if you would like to publicly comment in this blog. I will respond as soon as I can and you may inspire a blog article. I look forward to your comments.

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