Credibility

16 02 2009

Mary Gildersleve, PMP Detroit MI

marygildersleveWe all know just how important it is professionally to be authentic in our position, to establish trust with our customers, peers and team members, and to deliver measurable results to the organization.  The sum of these characteristics (and others) is credibility, which may be the single greatest factor to professional success.

PMO’s, like individual project managers, must establish credibility if they expect to be successful in their role.  Let’s look at possible reasons why PMO’s today may not possess the credibility they need to be successful:

Is the PMO formally recognized?

In the same way it would be tough to manage a project without being named the Project Manager, it’s equally tough for a PMO to be effective if it hasn’t been officially recognized through a formal charter.  This tends to be an oversight, where it’s assumed that simply mentioning the PMO in a meeting or doling out a “PMO Manager” title suddenly results in the existence of an effective PMO… nothing could be farther from the truth.  Lucky for us, there are widely available resources detailing the specifics of what goodies should be included in a PMO charter.  At a minimum it provides guidance for the recognized scope and specifies authority through your corporate sponsor (yes, one is needed) to accomplish that scope.   

Is the PMO demonstrating integrity and value add?

Integrity and value add have a lot to do with how the PMO is perceived, so we must ask ourselves in what ways do our customers and team members commonly interact with us and “see what we’re made of”?  There are a number of opportunities, chief among them is applying a project management framework which is typically developed and adopted by the PMO as a “play book” of sorts.  The play book exists to add discipline to the various projects and can be very effective so long as we’re careful to avoid the “check-the-box blindly syndrome”.  Meaning, the play book should be regarded as a continuous improvement package and balanced between applying the necessary discipline and recognizing there may be a better way to achieve the desired results.  There’s no substitute for sound judgment in the field, and no quicker way to destroy value then to blindly value principles over results.  We’re essentially doing more harm than good, not exactly the definition of integrity.

Does the PMO have enough capability to get the job done?

Even under the most interesting circumstances, you’d probably not ask a plumber to build an airplane nor would you ask a mechanical engineer to perform brain surgery, yet enterprise level PMO’s tend to fall into this type of thinking (albeit somewhat less obvious).  It’s the notion of one size fits all that causes us to believe all PMO projects, people, tools and technologies are created equal and can be referenced and planned for as set entities.  Hardly.  The capability of the PMO must be such that it can flex and creatively meet the needs of complex, non cookie cutter projects.  Otherwise, a play book might be all you really need, right?  This model requires thought leaders (often perceived as “overhead” when blanketed in the PMO) and the ability to manage project variables through flexible technology solutions. Without having significant resource and technology capability, credibility is not achievable.    

Is the PMO delivering measurable results?

PMO’s are notorious for measuring and reporting on project status, which is not a one for one equivalent to measuring and reporting on the PMO status.  Depending on the scope of the PMO, there may be a number of tangible perspectives to measure and evaluate on a regular basis.  Is the PMO responsible for mentoring and training project managers within the organization?  You’re likely tracking training candidates and demonstrating results on a progressive skills matrix.  Is it responsible for increasing the overall PM maturity within the organization?  You’re likely tracking against a maturity level for a defined maturity model, such as OPM3.   I’m interested in hearing of additional experiences other professionals have had in regards to measuring your PMO and what worked best as an approach.  We’ve probably all experienced instances in where the PMO is not measured as contributing little to building credibility necessary for long term success.

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