In previous articles on implementing PMO’s, we touched on a number of subjects. One key theme was the need for the PMO to continually align and deliver value within a constantly changing organization. 2014 will, no doubt, present new challenges and opportunities for this to continue.
At Ten Six, we see a couple of themes and goals for this year which include raising the strategic profile of the PMO and improving its approach to organizational skill development. Here we take a look at both of these goals.
Too many organizations relegate the PMO to a more tactical level instead of aligning it at the highest levels. If the successful delivery of projects is critical to the success of the organization, then why do so many companies bury the PMO lower in the organization?
Elevating the PMO will allow it to function as the executers of corporate strategy, aligning it much more closely with the strategic goals of the organization. It should also give it the responsibility, authority and accountability that is so often lacking in PMOs. The role should be considered C-Level and this could include changing the PMO managers title to Chief Investment Officer or Chief Strategy Implementation Officer.
This re-imagined PMO could vastly increase the its visibility both vertically and horizontally within the organization and will help drive more effective change faster, resulting in increased ROI.
Some organizations already call their PMO an EPMO (Enterprise Program Management Office) and this change would better live up to that moniker. Better still, how about changing the PMO name to Strategy Execution Office allowing it to further distance itself from the more tactical PMO.
For these changes to work, the staffing mix would have to change in order to operate effectively at the highest levels within the organization. Simply having project delivery experts on the team would not be enough and may only support naysayers to keep the PMO where it is. If you are the PMO manager today, it may be important to recognize that getting a new boss to run the new group could be necessary. In many ways, with the right person leading from the very top of the organization with authority that you don’t have today, it will make your job considerably easier. Its the difference between being a big fish in a small sea verses a small fish in a big sea.
Improved Staff Development
The second opportunity is to improve training and organization support for the project delivery staff. If you consider People, Process and Tools as key elements to address for a successful enterprise implementation, its not uncommon for organizations to place the emphasis in reverse order leaving people in last place.
This emphasis during an implementation, normally results in delivering initial basic training and rushing to check the box “training complete” mindset, with any ongoing training and personal development supported in an ad hoc nature. Project Management skill development should be more than a one-off training class or certification event!
If people truly are our biggest asset, then skill development should be thought of as an ongoing opportunity. Unfortunately, continuous staff development costs money and many budgets for this are often reduced or not approved at all.
To address the budget issue, one idea is to think of it like software tools (People, Process and Tools) which is normally at the top of the list. If we pay 20%+ in annual maintenance fees why not have a similar approach for skill development. If “our people are our biggest asset” is more than a slogan, then funding should not be an issue. Improving a project managers skills whether they be in leadership, business acumen or technical capability can only improve project performance and delivery.
Funding aside, new technologies like on-demand video training provide a more engaging learning experience. Role based and in context, including organizational processes, allows staff to learn at their own pace. It is training when its needed on the device of choice at a time of choice. Also, most Learning Management Systems (LMS) allow organizations to track progress and performance at the individual level. What better way to get consistent delivery without relying to the personalities of different trainers in different locations. An example of a generic on-demand class can be found by clicking here.
In addition to a more innovative approaches to skill development, improved collaboration and informal networking should be more common place. Creating internal forums where experts across the organization can share tips and mentor less experienced team members, will help raise the overall talent bar and allow for faster on boarding of new hires. One key goal that organizations should consider when setting up collaboration systems, is that the PMO must create practical and useful content…all the time! Good content will attract the users, otherwise, the internal sites have difficulty gaining momentum.
These are ambitious goals for most PMOs and talk about transforming the status quo which in itself is challenging. Adopting new training approaches would be the easier of the two and the results will have a positive impact on project performance and delivery. Elevating the PMO will require a clear vision and leadership skills, which ironically, organizations see as soft skills that are not always a priority for funding!