Project Management

Baby PMO Blues

Mark Mullaly is president of Interthink Consulting Incorporated, an organizational development and change firm specializing in the creation of effective organizational project management solutions. Since 1990, it has worked with companies throughout North America to develop, enhance and implement effective project management tools, processes, structures and capabilities. Mark was most recently co-lead investigator of the Value of Project Management research project sponsored by PMI. You can read more of his writing at

As any new parent, you probably have some concerns. "Am I up to it? Will I be able to handle the screaming? The mess? The change to my day-to-day schedule?" Rest assured--the life you face now is different, but manageable. The goal is reasonable, the plan (if you've been following the advice of previous columns) is sound, and you already have a clear definition of what success looks like.

The first and most important thing to remember is that managing a PMO is different than managing a project. For those of us who started life as project managers, that can be a difficult adjustment to make. Your job is not to wade in and take control of the projects, tackling issues and managing risks wherever they may be found.

Instead, your job is far more one of facilitator--helping the project managers to be successful certainly, but not doing their job for them. It is essential to recognize that this shift in perspective is one of the hardest parts of the job. Like a parent, sometimes we have to stand by and watch--regardless of our advice to the contrary--someone make mistakes that we can see coming a mile off, but that no amount of warning or caution will cause them to take heed of. And like a parent, the best you can do in such circumstances is to wait and be ready to help them pick up the pieces afterward.

Establishing our PMO capability has its own activities and deliverables…

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