You were hired on as a project manager at your company within one department to help them get their backlog of projects out the door. You’ve been there going on a year now and everyone in that department has really appreciated the work you’ve done. They have seen the benefits a professional project manager brings to the table. Project schedules, active project tracking, risk management, and collaboration are all words and activities at the top of each person’s mind.
Unbeknownst to you, other departments have been hiring project managers as well. They have been implementing their own methodologies, templates, risk management software, and processes and have experienced similar results to what is going on in your department. While this is working out well, there is not one place nor one person to go to who can see the big picture of the projects that are currently underway.
An astute executive recognizes this fact and starts having conversations about setting up a Project Management Office. This will provide for a hub of activity related to all projects going on within the organization and the ability to manage project risk. These may be client projects, hardware upgrades, infrastructure projects, and even projects within other departments such as Marketing or Finance. He talks about the economies of scale that can be realized, the consistency of processes across all departments and a real-time view into project risk, resource allocation, and expense management throughout the entire company.
The rest of upper management is 100% on board with his recommendation and YOU have been selected to head up the PMO. The good news is that it offers you more CHALLENGES and the ability to move forward with the company. It also gives you more EXPOSURE to upper management and allows you to leave a positive imprint on those areas you touch. The bad news is that you have never done anything like this before!
Where do you even start?
A PMO in its infancy can go down two paths real quick. Just like a real baby, some people will “oooh and ahhh” when they see the new baby and comment on how cute she is. Others, however, may say that’s the ugliest baby they have ever seen! While there may be no control over how people will react to a real-live baby, you do have some control over how people would react to the infant PMO you are setting up.
How to Introduce the New PMO to your Organization
1. Start Slowly
Don’t come in with your guns a-blazin’. “There’s a new sheriff in town and things are gonna’ change around here”will get you absolutely nowhere.You know there are changes that need to be made and that there are better ways to do things. You know the risk management strategy of the company leaves a lot to be desired.You can start putting your list together and prioritizing, but if you come in and right out of the gate make wholesale changes that negatively impact a lot of people then your days are numbered. Worse yet, the PMO will seem very ‘ugly’ to those who are meeting it for the first time and will undoubtedly react accordingly. It’s not that you can’t or won’t make change. You must and you will make change, however, do so after talking to the major stakeholders that will be affected, get their buy-in and introduce the change for all the right reasons and not just because “you told them so”.
2. Work Behind the Scenes
You and the project managers formerly from the other departments should carve out a couple of hours per week to address the global issues that are affecting everyone.Identify the answers to the questions above and then start working on joint solutions.
- Is there something in particular that frustrates resources from all departments?
- Are there unnecessary steps, or approvals, or processes in place that can be simplified?
- Is project risk management being handled the proper way?
- Is there something that is currently not being done that if it was done would make everyone’s lives easier?
Send your team out to talk to the people that are affected and have them come back with their recommendations. Then, document and come up with as simple and elegant a solution to each problem area as possible.
3. Introduce Processes Seamlessly and Effortlessly
It’s a given that you will be holding a weekly PMO meeting with functional managers and executives that either want visibility into what is going on in the company or are the ones that provide visibility. This is when you discuss project status, new work, project risks and other matters related to the PMO. At the end of the weekly meeting, introduce a new process that will make everyone’s work lives easier.
Here’s a simple example related to something as basic as a project numbering scheme. The problem people were experiencing was that they were getting confused about which project was which. Some people called one project one thing, others called it something else. There wasn’t a clear and concise way to identify projects. Additionally, there was some confusion around the “type” of project each one was (client paying, infrastructure, etc.) and not really a way to tell how long a project had been in progress.
Your team uncovered this frustration the week before and you came up with a solution after talking with everyone. A simple naming convention that includes the month the project started, the type of project, and a sequential number to allow you to keep track. Not a big deal but very effective. You spend five minutes putting together a 1-slide PowerPoint that introduces this elegant process into the mix and voila…your first process has been introduced.Now, there are going to be WAY MORE complicated problems that need to be solved than just a numbering scheme, but you get the point. Identify the bottlenecks, collaborate with those who it negatively impacts, comes up with a solution and spend five minutes rolling it out at your next weekly PMO meeting.
4. Show Benefits Early On
Now that you’ve had a couple of PMO meetings to your credit and implemented some pretty decent processes, you can speak to the benefits this is bringing to the company. Perhaps there has been less confusion, fewer questions, faster completions, lower costs and heightened risk management.
You will quickly be able to identify, capture, and speak to those benefits encouraging everyone to keep providing their input and feedback while at the same time following a consistent and repeatable process.
So, congratulations on your new position! By the way, make sure you get a raise with this additional responsibility because you’re worth it. Now it’s up to you to make sure your PMO baby is not ugly and that everyone “ooohhs and ahhhss” every time they work with the PMO.
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