My PMO does not work

The PMO creation approach is clear for me, I have read 2 books about this process and we are working on a new PMO. Nevertheless, now we are facing the change of an existing PMO that is not working properly. Thanks to Glen Alleman’s recommendation I bought this book: The Handbook of Program Management, James T. Brown

This book has a chapter named “Chaos to Clarity”, that has been very helpful for the approach we have used in our solution.

For the preparation of this solution the help of our account executive has been decisive, the knowledge of the client and its environment has been very helpful.

The definition we did about their business needs, their objectives, vision, and processes to change was very good and clear. This wise move, were exactly what we needed to get the customer listening our solution, they recognized that with the few information we had the vision of the problem was clear for us.

After that we showed our solution and they agree to work with it.

Don’t mix oil and water men

This behaviour is something I have seen on software development environments but this time I have seen on projects.

A PM is trying to adopt one of latest trend as the panacea for their current problems. We have told him what problems is having, but he does not want to recognize them, just change to a new “cool” way of carry on the project.

Of course if we would let him doing it, the problems would stay.

PM Methodology Alignment

Which Projects are more aligned to PM methodology? Infrastructure or Application projects?

During the check of the health of the projects we point to this alignment as another factor. With it, we have discovered that in general infrastructure projects follow the methodology in a better way than application projects.


Are the best PMs on infrastructure? No… Is there better background on infrastructure? Not either…

Then, why?

Observing how they work, we have seen how infrastructures work always following this cycle: they define the need, they look for a standard solution or product, they find it and check that meets the need and they implement it. This behaviour is something natural for them, they are used to look for the standard and they work in the same way on management.

On the other hand, applications background had in mind a bad practice: “…if I cannot find a solution I can open development environment and write the code for what I need…” This behaviour is transferred to management activities: all can be done on my way.

I can be wrong, but it’s what we are observing in our limited environment.

How can I execute this project?

We have won a service contract that includes the execution of two projects: one for the transition of the service to the new organization and the second one to adapt the current environment to some new laws.

For the first one, initially there are not big risks that can decrease the SLA during the transition. We know how to do it and we are comfortable with the internal recruitment we did.

The second project is another story.

This project has budget, business objectives and deliver date, that’s all. Project Statement of work?? business analysis??

Ok, no problem, really what we need to do is study what we really need to change on the procedures and applications to be compliant, all while we know their business processes.

The first step the service manager has requested us is a resource to start with the objective mentioned above.

Weekly meetings with other members of the service, that know the difficult approach of this project, will help with the knowledge of the processes and environments.

Once we start to know what changes are necessary, we will start to implement these via the operational service support: they will know the business processes and work with their change management processes.

This approach has been accepted by the client with the use of an staff augmentation strategy in the service, measuring of the effort for each change and reviewing the project objectives and the evolution of the deployment, plus another minor agreements.

Convince them about the benefits of this approach has not been difficult because they know the difficult of these changes into different business units:

“…so many stakeholders and people refusing the changes to get another benefits with the appearance of this project…”

The use of different approaches enclosed of a risk study was enough. We are also happy with the election of the client’s PM, he is the internal security auditor and know the company, the processes, the people and his reputation will help in our approach.

Not everything were good news, we have spent so much time to get the approval of this project plan and a compression of the plan is going to be necessary. But before to do it we want to see the speed of execution we can have.

Definitely, this plan is going to be reviewed necessarily and this decision is part of the approach and of the plan itself.

Someone can say this plan is not so much convincing but I cannot predict or define more in this moment.

Why do you have the opportunity of getting new responsibilities?

This question has been done to me sometimes and the answer is so simple.

I get the job that has been delegated to me and I perform it as soon as possible and taking care of deliver it in the best way that I can and trying to add some knowledge/experience in this road.

This is my simple rule of success, there is no any other trick.

One other important thing is the knowledge of the environment. Two years ago I came from a spanish company with a strong industrial & construction culture, offices around the world but where the culture was so local because all was very centralized and different in their main offices.

Then and I moved to an american IT consulting company where globalization was real in the day to day. It tooks me a lot of time to understand how decisions were really done, how to handle communications and relationships…

The third thing I take care is the self learning. I work in an environment where changes are continuous, I need to know how to evoluate in it.

Developing a strategic project position

One of the exercise I learnt about this is issue is the use of echelons of Project Goals.

Placing goals into echelons also helps determine the person in the client organization that can help you achieve multiple goals. Placing these echelons allow the people to see in which step of the project they are working.
The echelons could be something like that:
  1. Organizational , focused on project goals,
  2. External/Customer , focused on customer behavior,
  3. Inter-departmental , focused on inter-departmental performance,
  4. Operational , focused on functioning of a department,
  5. Feature , focused on system or process performance.

Developing a strategic project position

Look for links to higher echelons. Work with the client or your team to find the tasks that will place the goal into a higher echelon. You will then have a project that meets higher critical areas of performance and has greater value for the client.

The right alignment of these echelons is essential and it’s one of the things that will increase your odds of success.

It’s never too late to try to enchance the strategic position of your project.

If you find your project scope or goal does not correspond to those of your client, there are some alternatives you can try:

  • Lower the expectations of decision makers,
  • Elevate your project scope,
  • Move forward without further client consultation.