All successful project management offices (PMOs) have one thing in common, while all failed PMOs lack this same thing. Indeed, if your PMO has this one thing it's next to impossible for it to fail; similarly, if your PMO lacks this, you will not succeed, not matter how much more, time and energy you invest. So, what is this "brass ring" of PMOs?
It's funny, too, because of the wildly divergent theories out there about how project management ought to be performed and advanced, and what manifestations of the organization are indicative of success or failure. Some believe that only cost and schedule baselines contained in one software represent a successful PMO, while others hold a rival software combination as the only acceptable setup.
Many auditors will express outrage at the lack of internal procedures and guides, still others want widespread professional certifications. Many managers who, at some time, had been associated with what they perceived to be a successful PMO will have misidentified the primary casual factor that led to that success. As I discuss in my new book, Things Your PMO Is Doing Wrong, the idea that organizational clout can be leveraged to compel successful project management advancement is a myth, whether that clout-leveraging takes the form of forcing the tool (mandating the use of a certain software), issuing procedures and guides, or any of the other so-called coercive strategies.
The only way your PMO will succeed is if you adopt a technical approach to advancing project management capabilities that centers on obtaining that brass ring--cooperation--from the other parts of the macro-organization. And that level of cooperation can be elusive, indeed, but consider what you, the PMO director, are asking: You essentially want everybody else to change the way they've been doing business, for decades in some cases. I would submit that asking anybody to change anything they've been doing a certain way for years, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that the new way is better for everyone involved, is difficult in the extreme.
Difficult, but not impossible.
How is it done? To find out, you can pose a question on the blog that leads me to tip my hand and disclose the optimal technical approach. But there are two problems with that:
1. You still won't know my take on things that can blow up your implementation, even with the optimal technical approach
2. I'm expecting people to try to get me to reveal this secret, so I'm on to you.
Editor's note: You can purchase Michael Hatfield's new book, Things Your PMO Is Doing Wrong, in the PMI Marketplace.