The business-centered PMO

From the The 'Pivot' Theory to Practice Blog
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There is thought leadership—and then there is practice. Sometimes the chasm between theory and application can seem hard to cross. This blog will address that "gap" between what A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) and other theory-based literature postulates—and the framework needed to make it work for project teams in organizations today.

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Categories: PMO, Servant Leadership


One of our peers asked a question today about the key elements for standing up a PMO.  Here is what I told him.

My opinion is that you'll need to show value to the SBUs. They've been executing their operations and change initiatives to this point on their own so your team will need to always ask yourselves the question "What can we do for the business?". A couple of things to start with:

1. A sound tollgate process designed with the customer in mind (i.e. Initiation, Planning, Enter UAT, Exit UAT, Pre-deployment, Close) is important. However, I would concentrate on helping the business complete the items on the tollgate checklist and show them why it is valuable to the quality of the initiative/project. Ultimately, that's what the business really wants--quality. Timelines and cost objectives are negotiable, but QUALITY isn't

2. Hire experts with a wide variety of experience. When you are working with cross-functional teams there is a quantity of experience but also a qualitative element of experience that can't be explained/quantified. For example--bringing on an expert who can speak to the KPI's of finance, operations and engineering is a person who is a foot deep AND a mile wide. I would search for these "T" shaped people versus the "I" shaped narrow experts (The DevOps Handbook, (2016). Kim, Debois, Willis, Humble).

3. Set up your office and your operations as a conduit of information not a bottleneck. What I mean is that the PMO templates and processes can sometimes slow the business down. They need to be catapults and aids that help grease the rails for the train of innovation. Adhering to numbers 1,2 above may help to facilitate this.

4. Above all--I think we need to have an attitude of servant leadership with the business units we serve. One can be a servant leader without having a title. I serve in my organization by helping the business achieve their schedule and communication goals. The processes tend to fit the people through that lens (not the other way around).

Best wishes for your success & thanks for the question!!

What are your thoughts on the PMO?  How do we serve and deliver value in the 21st century?  How should be evolve to continue to do so?

Posted on: August 23, 2019 02:37 PM | Permalink

Comments (5)

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Servant leadership is very important ingredient of good PMO. Nice perspectives. Thanks a lot!!

great insight! thank you!

John, great thoughts on the PMO being a servant leadership. While we all think of the PMO managing the process, being a servant makes lots of sense. Without the over sight, coordination, de-confliction, and potential resourcing that the PMO office does many project would not reach success.

Very interesting, thanks for sharing

thank you for sharing

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