I know a certain Project Manager (PM) who we’ll refer to as “Bob.”
Bob was a new employee. As a Project Management Professional (PMP), he believed he was ready for the position at an established organization. This organization was a medium-sized company between 3,000-5000 employees and had been in business since the early 20th century. Its’ clients and customers were loyal to the products the organization sold and the organization was adept at keeping the price of its products within range of a typical middle class family unit. This is what attracted Bob to this PM role.
In the interview, Bob neglected to ask how the organization treated its associates in the IT department. But even if he did, he would have received the answer “no different from other organizations treat their IT associates.” This would be a bit of a stretch because in this organization, IT was seen as a necessary evil, even in the early 21st century. The other departments, especially sales, did not believe that IT brought “value” to the organization. So when Bob started with this new organization, he was presented with their version of a Project Management Office (PMO).
Using the PMO as a stick
- The PM had to use the prescribed MS Project template that was developed by the PMO even though each IT project had its own caveats.
- The PM had to present certain artifacts during certain phases. Presenting them too early or too late resulted in the project being put on hold until the PM corrected this.
- If the PM was brought in front of the PMO lead, the PM was not allowed to explain himself/herself regarding the deviation, no matter what the reason. This meeting was set up to demonstrate the errors of the PM.
- There was an introductory webinar for the PM defining the PMO and its methodology.
- A new PM “shadowed” another PM upon starting. Even though the new PM had projects, the shadow PM provided guidance.
- The PMO lead had regular PMO meetings and one-on-ones with the PMs to provide guidance and ensure all PMs understood the PMO process.
- New ideas from PMs to improve process were discussed in the group and if the idea provided added benefits or reduced time and costs, they were eventually introduced into the PMO
Using the PMO as a Carrot
Once Bob left that organization, he joined a new one. This organization was the same size and also had loyal customers for the same reasons. This organization had an established PMO and used it to promote its IT projects. The big difference was the way the PMO was managed and how the PMs were treated in that PMO. For example:
ConclusionWhenever a PM is taking on a new role, whether it is at a new organization or a new division in the same organization, I have tried to illustrate the types of PMOs that are in existence and the ones that are obviously preferable.
When PMs are interviewing for a PM position, the obvious questions about the PMO should be:
- How are PMs and other employees treated?
- What is the culture?
- Does the PMO allow any improvements?
- Does the PMO lead have regular meetings and one-on-ones?
- What is the organization’s belief towards IT?
- Is there growth for the PM?