PMI Global Insights

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The Project Management Institute's annual events attract some of the most renowned and esteemed experts in the industry. In this blog, Global Conference, EMEA Congress and experienced event presenters past, present and future from the entire PMI event family share their knowledge on a wide range of issues important to project managers.

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View Posts By:

Cameron McGaughy
Kristy Tan Neckowicz
Jack Duggal
Saurayan Chaki
Dan Furlong
Marcos Arias
Danielle Ritter
Marjorie Anderson
David Maynard
Sandra MacGillivray
Deepa Bhide
Karen Chovan
Nadia Vincent
Lawrence Cooper
Michelle Stronach
Kristin Jones
Yves Cavarec
Laura Samsó
Fabio Rigamonti
Sarah Mersereau
Gina Abudi
David Davis
Nic Jain
Emily Luijbregts
Cheryl Lee
Priya Patra
Karthik Ramamurthy

Past Contributers:

Catalin Dogaru
Carlos Javier Pampliega García

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How to seek the links and make those valuable connections

Rethinking the Charter

Since I retired after 26 years in one company, I have had assignments in various PMOs in different industries.  I’ve been in the energy sector, the insurance sector, credit card services, industrial/manufacturing, and now healthcare.  Every industry has struggled with the project charter.  What does baselining it mean? Does it ever get updated? Who should issue it? And the list goes on.  And while PMOs in all these industries try to invent the perfect process – we are ignoring one important aspect.

The project charter, as defined by PMI, does not meet the needs of today’s business!

Before you call me a heretic and an incompetent – hear me out.  The problem I have with the charter is it becomes a reformatting of existing information, bloated, and redundant – and it doesn’t provide the project team with the most important information it needs.  Shouldn’t the charter give the team a definition of what success looks like?

I propose the charter should be extremely streamlined.  After all, how many people, let along executives, will read a 14 page charter?  Many charter templates contain information that is already in one artifact and will no doubt be included in another.  I propose we throw away the bloated all-inclusive charter of today and replace it with a simple charter.

Project Organizational Wrapper

You need to have the organizational wrapper of project control structures.  If the project pipeline has a defined Demand Process and there is a demand id, it should be in the charter.   This should also be aligned to the business case information – what went into the approval, and other justifications.  No need to repeat them in the charter – they already exist in a corporate database of record.  If information is in two places – that doubles the risk of inconsistency, confusion, and delay.

If you have an integrated project management system (IPMS) that tracks project work in process – then that project id should be there. Projects assume titles and identify from the ideation phase through project initiation.  That title, or name, should be included in the charter because that’s the lingo that has defined the initiative.

Should be results focused

Once the project is ready to kick off, the work initiative needs to be focused on the results.  If your organization is mature enough to be doing Benefits Management Realization, the charter should map directly to the benefit register.  The next section of the charter should be:

What does success look like?

Quite simply – what is the vision in reality?  Knowing what success is far outweighs the value of several scope bullet points.  The definition of success can be expressed in several ways including:

Critical success factors

The essential areas of activity that must be performed well if you are to achieve the mission, objectives or goals for your business or project.

What can we do in the future that we can’t do now?

How do we measure success?

Not calling for specific key performance indicators here, but should have an idea of how we will measure success.  It also provides requirements for the product and what are the critical success factors.

External/legal requirements

If you are driven by a legal requirement or an industry standard (HIPPA or an ISO requirement comes to mind) than that should be identified.  The charter must identify conformation to external factors.

What benefits are being realized?

Again, if you have a mature benefits realization process, then the entire benefits quantification/qualification should be in place and your project is delivering outcomes and capabilities to realize the defined benefits.

Organizational RACI

The charter must be able to identify all the organizations that are impacted by the initiative.  After all, how did you get high level estimates for the business case if you didn’t have a means of identifying organizations involved?  This RACI should then be driven to know which groups need to receive and approve the charter. 

Time Frame

What time frame is expected for the organization to start to realize benefits?  Let’s avoid the charade of bottom up estimates and defining the schedule after you have all requirements defined etc.  We are driven by budget cycles and funding is only approved to last so long.  This isn’t to say those things can’t and shouldn’t happen, but at a Charter level – the approval has a defined end time.  This also helps define the scope.

I have purposely omitted several pieces of what is considered part of a charter.  Not that I don’t think they are important, I do, but they belong in defined sections of the project plan.  There is no need for budget as that should already be in the business case approval – and I don’t know if it directly contributes to the definition of the outcomes and capabilities.    Scope is implied in what success looks like and the Critical Success Factors.  If during requirements definition, a question is raised that doesn’t directly support the definition of success, than it is out of scope.  Assumptions, risks, issues, and constraints are all important, but they live elsewhere.  The charter should identify the future state, not dwell on the challenges of the present state.  And the charter should be a onetime document that is not modified or have addendums.  It initiates the work – other artifacts ebb and flow during the project life cycle.

In closing – the purpose of the charter is to authorize the project manager to start delivering on the project.  It is not to cut and paste from all over to make an all-inclusive summary of all business intelligence that justified the project.  I propose to make it a lean document focused on the outcomes and capabilities and the definition of success.  Items that have a workflow/life cycle (risks, assumptions, issues, etc.) do not need to be in a charter, they are taken care of elsewhere.  A lean, concise, and easy to read charter allows the team to focus on delivering within the success criteria.



Please sign up for a 1:1 with me while at the PMI Global Conference! We can talk about PMOs, healthcare project management, teaching project management, or any other topic related to project management!

To schedule a 1:1, use the SIGN UP button on this page.

Posted by David Davis on: October 21, 2017 06:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)

Who's in Your Bullpen?

Who's in Your Bullpen?

Recently I had the privilege of working with staff from my local county government as part of a two year training program they host for “emerging leaders.” Over the first year their emerging leaders attend half-day sessions on various leadership topics, and my workshop was the last in the series. Then, during their second year of the program they are assigned liaisons as they break into teams and run county-wide projects while continuing to meet together monthly to compare notes, share lessons learned, and grow as a leadership team. Each team member is assigned work in areas outside of their current work area in order to further develop their knowledge of the county and how they conduct their business.

Coming from a healthcare background, I compare it to a fellowship program where administrators and physicians serve in various areas of the hospital for a year to help guide them toward the area where they are best suited.

I asked one of the program leaders what led to this initiative, and he reported that a sharp analyst discovered that over 30% of the county’s current leadership is eligible to retire today. That is nearly 1/3 of their leaders! Fortunately for them (and us, as county residents), our county council agreed to support a program whereby current county employees, who have shown a propensity toward leadership, would be trained, mentored, and groomed for future leadership positions within the county.

Our county is developing a bullpen…leaders who, when the time comes, can step up to the mound and assume control of the game.

We have a similar approach at my employer, although it is not purely a leadership program as much as it is a staff development program. Over the past year our leadership in IS (IT, analytics, and informatics) has observed that we have a vast pool of highly skilled workers that we are overlooking – our interns and administrative fellows. We have interns in our department every year, but we have never been allowed to invest in training for them. Once they graduate, our assumption is that they will leave our department and find full time jobs. Although several of my interns have been hired by our department, it was not due to any structured approach to helping them find a fit but rather that they just liked what they were doing as an intern. I have been lucky, as one third of my PMO staff are former students who served as interns with me prior to graduation.

But, we can’t just depend on luck! So, we are now developing a more formal internship program within our department, investing training time and dollars in their development, encouraging them to work in multiple areas over their internship with us, with the goal that a higher percentage of them will want to continue working with us after graduation. And not because of dumb luck, but because they have had a chance to experience real work and grow as employees through training and experience we offered.

Part of this program will include administrative fellows, those masters’ prepared students who work in our operations areas of the hospital for a year before deciding on their chosen career path. This year the organization offered them a two-day course in the fundamentals of project management, and they are scheduled to attend a follow-up two-day course that will give them hands on experience using such basic tools and techniques as multi-voting, conducting a lessons learned, performing a risk assessment, and developing a WBS. After that, they will be working on projects with the PMO where they will be able to experience the benefits of managing a project using the many tools and techniques that we find valuable.

We are building a bullpen for our PMO…staff who can step into a job upon graduation that they know they will like (because they have tried it out), and that they can do (because they have done it), and are ready to be successful (because we have trained them and they now have experience), and, of course, to make our PMO be successful.

Do you have a development program to ensure a continuity of talent for your leaders, for your project managers?

So, I ask you again, Who’s in Your Bullpen?

Please sign up for a 1:1 with me while at the PMI Global Conference! We can talk about PMOs, healthcare project management, teaching project management, or any other topic related to project management!

To schedule a 1:1, use the SIGN UP button on this page.



Posted by Dan Furlong on: October 20, 2017 01:41 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)

ATA Risk Question

ATA (Ask to Answer) for the Risk expert Mr. Maynard.

I wonder if there is a formal explanation for something I call “Organizational Accepted Risk”.  There are many risk items that I personally don’t call out in my risk mitigation strategy because the Organization automatically accepts the Risk and will deal with it when it occurs.  I mention it in my governance document, but not in my Risk Plan. Some examples of these risks are listed below:

  1. A team member leaves the organization (whatever the reason: resignation, layoffs, death, etc.)  It definitely can impact my deliverables, but.
  2. A cyber attack.  I do a lot of network projects and there is always the risk of a cyber attack taking resources (wanacry is one example).  We deal with it, but it can cause a jeopardy.
  3. Funding cut.  I treat this as an issue when and if it occurs and requires the project plan to be reviewed.
  4. Act of God – there are lots of things that can happen to disrupt the project.  Fire, hurricane, tornado, zombie apocalypse.  I don’t call these out as specific Risk items as we just accept them.  The probability is low for some areas (not too many hurricanes in Ft Wayne) 

My question: “is there an accepted best-practice for handling Organization Accepted Risk” and could you direct me to it?

Posted by David Davis on: October 10, 2017 04:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

Building a PMO with an Agile Approach

Categories: , Agile, EMEA, PMO, PMOs

Presenters: M. Khalifa and M. Ilyas

When I saw in the agenda that these two presenters were delivering two sessions at PMI EMEA, I was very excited as they are usually very informative and knowledgeable, but also entertaining and enjoyable.


PMI EMEA has 7 concurrent tracks, therefore I could attend only this session.

One of the most important pillars that must be added to the other three traditional pillars of PMO Implementation is Change Management.

Without it, the entire PMI falls down.

Then, among all the agile's enablers, they explained the importance of simplicity with the following example:

This is a bull portrayed by Picasso after several (many) steps of simplification.

In their case study, their challenge was how to move from complexity to simplicity without compromising governance and best practices. They reached that success by implementing the Picasso's approach:

  • from 30 processes to 20
  • from 30 steps in requirement gathering to 12

The feedback they had were supporting their approach:

And you, what experiences to you have to share in similar cases?

Posted by Fabio Rigamonti on: May 06, 2017 03:46 AM | Permalink | Comments (9)

From Kill the PMO to Creating an Elite PMO

Categories: Agile, Complexity, PMOs

From Kill the PMO to Creating an Elite PMO there are some exciting sessions to look forward in the PMO area of focus at the congress.  I will be leading the first session on Sunday morning, Kill the PMO! Some of you are probably excited about this idea of killing the PMO and others are wondering, why?

“When will the PMO stop us from conducting business…” was a comment I heard recently from a frustrated executive in a financial services organization. Often, PMOs are guilty of unclear, complicated processes that are costly in terms of time, rework, frustration and simply conducting business. These complicated processes are like creepers and weeds that can spread and strangle healthy plants and trees if not controlled in time.

What comes to mind when you think about the “PMO?” 78% of the respondents in our survey said more work, documentation, red-tape and bureaucracy.  This perception of bureaucracy is a critical issue for PMOs and a number one reason for push-back and lack of buy-in and acceptance for many PMOs.

Today’s DANCE-world (Dynamic & changing; Ambiguous & uncertain; Non-Linear; Complex and Emergent & unpredictable) has caused increasing disruption in business and beyond. To survive in a disruptive world speed and agility are key and simplicity is a strategic imperative. How do you create a start-up culture that gives you a competitive advantage and guard against bloat and bureaucracy that slows you down? As one executive in a global conglomerate remarked, “our enemy is not the competition, it is unnecessary complexity in our processes.” You have to create a culture where you can work together and focus on initiatives and projects that matter the most, make jobs easier, simplify processes and enhance customer experience. Organizations like General Electric, ConAgra, Vanguard and others have embraced simplification as a strategic initiative.

Just like the Phoenix the PMO can rise from the ashes and resurrect itself as the Department of Simplicity. The vision for starting and sustaining PMOs should be that they are the Department of Simplicity within the organization. There is a rallying cry to simplify organizations and government in today’s disruptive world and simplification is become a strategic imperative for speed and agility in many organizations.  

In this not-to-miss session we will discuss how the PMO needs to kill the traditional perception of bureaucracy and re-invent itself as the Department of Simplicity. We will discuss how the PMO can take a leadership role to identify opportunitiesto focus on simplicity and dedicate itself to identify and reduce unnecessary overhead and complicatedness. You will walk-away with practical ideas and techniques from real-world PMOs that will help you to increase buy-in, support and win raving fans for your PMO.

The other PMO sessions range from building a PMO from the Ground-up to Starting-up an Enterprise PMO. Also Change Management and Creating an Elite PMO through collaboration are featured. I am also excited about finding out more about how to Incorporate PM Best Practices even when the PMO is not supported by the organization. Here is a listing of the PMO area of focus sessions:

NA14INP01: Kill the PMO! Resurrect the Department of Simplicity

IntermediateSunday, 26 October
10:45 AM–12:00 PM
NA14INP02: Incorporate PM Best Practices into the Business when a PMO is not Supported

IntroductorySunday, 26 October
1:15 PM–2:30 PM
NA14INP03: Change Management as a Project: Building a PMO

IntermediateSunday, 26 October
2:45 PM–4:00 PM
NA14INP04: Creating an Elite PMO: Solving Challenges Through Collaboration

IntermediateSunday, 26 October
4:15 PM–5:30 PM
NA14INP05: Building a PMO from the Ground Up: Three Stories, One Result

IntermediateTuesday, 28 October
10:45 AM–12:00 PM
NA14INP06: Starting up an Enterprise-Wide PMO

IntroductoryTuesday, 28 October
1:30 PM–2:45 PM

Even if you are not directly involved with PMOs, attending PMO sessions at the congress will provide a broad perspective on contemporary issues facing organizational project management (OPM). If you want to find out what is trending in PM it might be a good idea to attend some of these sessions.

Posted by Jack Duggal on: October 14, 2014 11:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Don't be humble. You're not that great.

- Golda Meir