Dirty Little Secret

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 markmullaly.com.

In a recent column, I discussed the emerging perception of the PMO as the new fad of project management. In essence, the PMO has replaced training and software as the new silver bullet for any organization's stated requirement to "get us some project management."

While there is no question that the PMO is now being looked to as the logical answer to the question of how to improve project management, the larger issue is understanding why this is actually the case. Why, specifically, is the implementation of PMOs the new fad, as opposed to any other aspect of project management?

This is the question that has been rattling around the caverns of my skull for the last few weeks since writing the article and receiving the enormous amount of (mostly positive and resonant) feedback. Certainly, there is widespread agreement that the PMO is being viewed as the silver bullet, and even greater insistence that the PMO shouldn't be viewed as the be-all and end-all of project management solutions. So why do companies keep on wanting to implement one?

In observing the approach, behaviors and apparent motives of numerous organizations as they implement new project management capabilities, the following factors seem to have a significant influence on the formation of the PMO:

The desire for a PMO is rarely driven by senior management. The impetus for a PMO largely comes from either …

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"Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new."

- Albert Einstein

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