Categories: PMO Leadership
|Strategic (adj) / relating to a plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal.|
Not too long ago, I was asked by a CIO to help him and his to-be-named PMO Manager with their Strategic Plan for the PMO. My response to him was, “you have a Strategic for the PMO, that’s great. You know many PMOs don’t really have a Strategic Plan.” We both laughed a bit and then he explained his problem to me.
The to-be-named PMO Manager created a Strategic Plan for the PMO and reviewed it with the CIO. It contained a mission statement, objectives, and critical success factors. The mission statement, in essence, stated that the mission was to (1) provide project management assistance to the organization, and (2) to implement a project management system and methodology. To me, that is not a mission. The Objectives section of the document listed out three areas; planning process, control process, and management, and it described activities within each of these three areas. But nowhere within the list of objectives were any kind of “how much, by when” declarations. The Critical Success Factors area of the PMO Strategic Plan was almost exclusively centered on establishing a Project Management Center of Excellence, providing project management training and mentoring, and implementing the project management system. Whether or not these things were truly critical success factors for the Strategic Plan of the PMO, or were the most critical, was in effect not possible to discern as the success factors were not tangibly related to any of the objectives.
So, at the end of the day, the CIO was pondering a Strategic Plan that basically entailed implementing a project management system, establishing a center of excellence, and providing training and mentoring. And what did the CIO think about and see in the plan? He saw cost, cost, cost, and more cost. And how could the CIO answer the CFO when the CFO asks him about the benefits and value and the potential payback or return on investment? The PMO Strategic Plan that the to-be-named PMO Manager created was of no value to the CFO, nor to the CIO, and in reality, it was of little value to the PMO.
So how do you create a PMO Strategic Plan that does provide value? Well, first of all, recognize that the Strategic Plan for the PMO is not the PMO Charter. The PMO charter is the organizational mandate for the PMO. It defines the role, purpose and functions of the PMO. It articulates who the PMO's sponsors and customers are, the services that it offers, and the staffing and support structures required to deliver those services. And, it assumes that a decision to have a PMO has already been made. And second, align the Strategic Plan for the PMO to the needs of the business for which the PMO exists to serve. For example, when you do this, providing project management assistance to the organization and implementing a project management system is not the mission. They are not even objectives. Rather, they become strategies in support of the goals and objectives to be achieved.
To create a results-driven Strategic Plan for the PMO, it is helpful to follow a top down format. The most commonly used and accepted format is the classical strategic planning outline. This outline consists of the following:
The benefits of following this outline are many fold. First, you answer some very straight forward questions that any business unit needs to be able to answer. Second, you speak a common strategic language that will be understood from the members of the business unit to those the business unit supports and on up to executive management, especially the CFO. And third, you place in the proper context of the strategic plan those things that make up the strategic plan, the components. For example, a goal isn’t to implement a project management system or to establish a project management center of excellence. The project management system is likely to be a need that supports a strategy. Likewise, the project management center of excellence is likely to be a strategy to support an objective. Important to note, in developing your Strategic Plan, you don’t have to start at the top and go down to the bottom in top down order all in one setting. Often, it is helpful to brainstorm as a small team or individually to come up with a number of ideas. You might first focus on just the vision component. You might be surprised to find out the differing views on what the vision of the PMO ought to be.
For any business organization, it is quite important to have these things - a common vision, an unambiguous mission statement, goals, and for each goal specific objectives that are measurable in terms of how much by when, and so on. If you follow this kind of an outline, you will have a Strategic Plan that makes sense and can be used at all levels of the organization. If not, you might end up with a list of good ideas for your PMO that your management may, or may not, be able to support, fund, and act upon.