According to The New York Times 95% of bloggers give up. Thankfully, I’m not one to throw in the towel so easily and so after a brief hiatus of 1574 days (what’s 4 years and 4 months between friends) I’ve finally gathered my thoughts and made it around to resetting my WordPress login details.
Recently I read a post on LinkedIn entitled ‘Why command and control PMOs are killing project management’ which really resonated with me, enough so to stoke the dying embers of my PMO enthusiasm and rekindle those flames.
I’d forgotten that I used to be a really enthusiastic PMO Manager who started a blog and had grand plans to blog every Monday morning and who had no aspiration to become a Project or Programme Manager (it’s in black and white here). 4 years ago I was working quite contentedly in the PMO and was actually quite happy (and busy) setting up frameworks, processes, templates, templates with guidance notes and beautifully crafted and colour coded project and programme status reports.
In hindsight I was oblivious to the fact I was working in a ‘Command and Control’ PMO. Everything the PMO was doing was under the very best of intentions and senior management seemed to like all the paper, I mean who can argue with the merits of;
- Introducing a very thorough (i.e. onerous) process for project justification
- Checking the right versions of templates are being used
- Rejecting project managers reports if the wrong colour is used for the traffic light indicators
- Attending lots of paper-based governance meetings
In a nutshell the PMO was more focussed on what Project Managers should be filling in and in what format this should be presented to various senior management boards instead of supporting Project Managers to deliver projects.
Despite my earlier protestations about not wanting to be a Project Manager I clearly fancied a change, and at the end of 2011 when an opportunity arose for a secondment into a Project Manager role arose I took it (and continue to be there) and dropped my PMO pompoms like a hot potato. #fickle
The PMO continued on for some while beyond 2011 where I as a Project Manager was on the other side of the fence being actively chased for my highlight reports (which naturally had to be submitted on the correct template and showing the “appropriate ” Red/Amber/Green status to allay management fears regardless of whether that actually reflected the true status of the project). As far as I can work out the PMO was gradually disbanded (either that or they’ve also been very quiet for three years).
The world has changed since 2011 and so have the challenges faced by local government. We are now well into a period of prolonged austerity and faced with ever increasing demand for services local authorities are having to find innovative and creative ways to do things differently. The variety and scale of transformational change over the last few years has made for an interesting, challenging and sometimes frustrating time for Project Managers.
And it’s that last paragraph that I’m going to hide behind when I admit to not having given more than a fleeting thought about the value of a PMO because being busy is always a good excuse (and plus it makes my brain/pride hurt a little thinking about it!).
I’d still describe myself as a PMO Cheerleader. Based on my previous experience, it’s clear a one-size fits all approach doesn’t work, however I still feel there is a place within the organisation for a PMO to support the current transformation agenda through;
- Supporting Project Managers
- Keeping the organisation focused on benefits delivery
- Good practice
- Lessons learned from previous project
- Clear and concise information that enables decisions-making, removes barrier and reduces risk to the organisation
In my opinion there is a direct correlation between realising the value that a PMO can add and the organisation’s project management maturity level. One way of measuring this is to look at how committed an organisation is continuous improvement/developing its project managers. I think I need to give that some more thought.