Program Management Offices (PMOs) have been around for many years. The first PMO that I worked with was in 1995. Today, many PMOs are trying to improve their image and deliver more value to the organization than simple project reporting. Showcase your PMO and deliver more value to your organization with these five simple tips:
Tip #1 – Satisfy both your big “C” and little “c” customer
Today, most PMOs are internally focused with a motto of “our way or the highway”. Frequently, the PMOs processes are inflexible are create friction with their big “C” and little “c” customers. The big “C” customer is usually the ultimate external customer who pays the organization with real currency. The little “c” customer is often an internal customer that has a formal agreement with the PMO and pays with internal currency. PMOs need to understand “What is the definition of value?” from their big “C” and little “c” customer’s perspective. Re-engineering the PMO processes and synchronizing PMO team member behaviors with the big “C” and little “c” customer’s definition of value should lead to high customer satisfaction scores at the end of each work effort. Remember, one of the PMOs key responsibilities is to make the program sponsors look great!
Tip #2 – Align PMO and business metrics
The old adage “You can’t fix what you don’t measure” should be a core belief for PMOs. Most PMOs track many metrics. Unfortunately, many of these tracked metrics are not aligned to business performance. PMOs should identify and track metrics that are aligned with business goals and objectives. More PMOs than you think are not aligned with the business. As a result, these PMOs get a false sense of success while the business leadership has a different opinion. Remember, no one wants to look bad in front of their leadership team. If you don’t know what metrics are important to your business leadership, ask.
Tip #3 – Let processes drive tool selection
Over the years, I have seen many organizations become tool crazy. No argument, some tools are pretty cool. However, when organizations pick tools before they determine their core processes, organizations often get in trouble…especially, PMOs. Why? When tools are selected before the processes are defined and agreed to, organizations often are surprised by the cost and effort to modify the tools to implement the desired processes. These cost surprises are incurred up front (implementation costs) and on-going (maintenance costs). These incremental costs are a poor use of precious organizational resources. When the processes are known before tool selection, these processes can help the organization assess if the tool will meet the needs of your organization…resulting in lower implementation and maintenance costs.
Tip #4 – Convert lessons to lessons learned
Many organizations talk about “Lessons Learned” sessions. Remember, lessons are not lessons learned until the lessons are integrated into the organization’s processes. Many PMOs have post program assessments. However, many times these lessons are not integrated into the PMO processes and as a result the systemic issues continue to occur on future work streams. Without these lessons integrated into the PMO processes, PMOs will continue to rely on individual heroics instead of organizational excellence to achieve program delivery success. If organizations would do this simple tip alone, they would save millions of dollars each year. Yes, millions!
Tip #5 – Coach and mentor your teams
Many PMOs move people in and out of their organization. Frequently, PMOs do not have an onboarding process. They simply tell the new team member, “go do this work”. The challenge with this approach the new team member does not get the benefit of learning what the organization has previously learned…resulting, in a potential repeat of previous systemic issues. The other opportunity lost is the organization does not get to learn from the new team member that could benefit the PMO and organization as a whole. The sharing of “lessons learned” should be a two way exchange.
About the author
Author Ira M. Hendon, MBA, PMP®, CSM® is an expert in program/project leadership consulting and protecting intellectual property. For a no-risk consultation check out Hendon Group at the following link for more information and expert advice on program leadership consulting.