PMOs Without Project Managers?

Carleton is an Associate Director Portfolio Management in Queensland, Australia.

Sometimes, a decision maker in your organization decides that their people are best at delivering a project because they know their business area so much better than any external project manager. A new initiative is announced and projects are started with great enthusiasm. After a while, the projects start to slip and you as the PMO manager are asked to step in and smooth out delivery by these non-project managers.

This can be a frustrating time as you try to integrate this new group into a functioning PMO with departments jostling for control, bewilderment from people forced to deliver using new methods—and resistance from others who think project documentation is too much trouble.

I encountered this situation during engagements with two different clients. In both cases, someone at the senior management level had realized their company faced one or more complex transformative changes and felt it best for internal business people to take on the role of project manager. What follows are the lessons I learned along the way that helped transform non-project managers into a capable delivery team.

Educate Upward First
If you run an existing PMO, you may be working with trained project managers with some degree of experience. Your new project managers will come from a business unit that may rarely do projects, such as human resources or operations. The executive in …

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