PMOs: Of Purpose and Problems

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at andy.jordan@roffensian.com. Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

I was recently contacted by an exasperated PMO leader who was looking for advice. His company was going through the late stages of planning for its next fiscal year, and he was looking to put a business plan and key performance indicators (KPIs) in place for the PMO.

The problem he was facing was that no one in his leadership team could tell him what they needed him to achieve. He approached his direct manager and explained he wanted to develop a business plan, that he was more than prepared to work with the manager to establish success criteria and KPIs, and that he felt his performance should be judged based on the PMO’s delivery against those KPIs. All the PMO leader needed from his manager and the rest of the leadership team was some high-level prioritization of purpose and focus areas.

The response from his manager was, “Why can’t you just solve my project problems? Why is that so hard to understand?” That was the cause of the exasperation, and that is the heart of the problem many PMOs face. The leaders accountable for PMOs simply don’t understand enough about projects and PMOs to be able to provide the right level of guidance and insight. I’ll readily agree that PMO leaders should be able to identify and implement solutions to problems, and that’s what this PMO leader wants to do. However, it shouldn’t be down to the …

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