Search This Blog

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Value of a PMO

It takes courage for your organization's senior management to step up and support the concept of a professional Project Management Office (PMO). While forming a PMO shouldn't be taken lightly, the benefits are clearly documented.

According to Gartner Industry Research, "building a Project Management Office (PMO) is a timely competitive tactic". They believe that "organizations, who establish standards for project management, including a PMO with suitable governance, will experience half the major project cost overruns, delays, and cancellations of those that fail to do so". Gartner goes on to say that three basic types of PMOs have emerged.

Per Gartner, "at each end of the PMO spectrum are offices that on the one hand range from a repository, which collects and disseminates project management best practices and methodologies, to an internal consultancy model or enterprise project office, which directly provides project managers to run individual projects". "Between these two ends of the spectrum are variants of a coaching model". "These types of project offices provide expertise and oversight for the business (sometimes providing the Project Managers), in addition to advising on project setup, reporting (for example, via dashboard’ reports), and facilitating post-project reviews and metrics collection".

What Value can a PMO Offer?

Establish and deploy a common set of project management process and templates. These reusable components save time by allowing projects to start-up more quickly and with less effort.

The PMO builds and maintains the PM methodology and updates it to account for improvements and newly discovered best practices.

The PMO facilitates improved project team communication by having common processes, deliverables, and terminology.

The PMO sets up and supports a common repository so that prior project management deliverables can be candidates for reuse by similar projects. This helps to save start-up time.

The PMO is responsible for PM training. This training helps to build core PM competencies and a common set of experiences. This PMO training helps to reduce overall training costs paid to outside vendors.

The PMO coaches project managers to help keep projects from getting into trouble. At risk projects can be assisted by the PMO to mitigate further issues and risks.

The PMO serves as a tracking mechanism for basic project status information and provides a common project visibility report to management.

The PMO tracks organization-wide metrics on the state of project management, projects delivery, and the value being provided to the business by project management in general, and the PMO specifically.

The PMO is the overall PM advocate to the organization. This could include educating and selling management on the value of using consistent PM processes, or as a liaison to other business centers to provide project management training and support.

One fact is clear from the research I have conducted, a PMO is critical when it comes to supporting sound project management practices. The larger the project the more project management (PM) can help to bring about success. It is readily accepted that good Project Management processes support:

* Reduced Cycle Time and Delivery Costs
* Improved quality of project deliverables
* Early identification of project issues, budget, scope and risks
* Reuse of knowledge and the ability to leverage that knowledge on future projects
* Improved accuracy of project estimates
* Improved perceptions of the project management organization by our partners
* Improved people and resource management
* Reduced time to get up to speed on new projects

Questions or comments? Post directly on this blog, or e-mail me at sfseay(at)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Shared Vision and Goals

I found this document on line and found it very inspiring. I think it is an important message for Project managers since they must constanly get their project teams to agree to a shared vision and be willing to be flexible as conditions change.

Author Unknown

The Best-laid Plans

Climbing the world's highest mountain under normal circumstances requires months, sometimes years, of preparation. In May 1996, Breashears and his team faced a special challenge: making an IMAX film about their journey. Carrying and maintaining hundreds of pounds of filming equipment meant that planning was even more meticulous than usual. "We went to that mountain with a great plan, an elegant plan," said Breashears. For one, it was flexible. "A good plan makes you nimble, not stuck. Ours gave us options ... wiggle room." By rehearsing extensive "what if" scenarios long before they got to the mountain, the team was ready for the unexpected. So when a freak storm hit the day they were to approach the summit, Breashears' team turned back while other teams kept climbing. With the summit just within reach, the temptation to go on was enormous, Breashears recalled, especially since the team had already spent weeks on the mountain, passing through all four base camps and acclimatizing their lungs to the thin air. Yet, as Breashears noted, "We had to climb on the mountain's schedule, not ours," an acknowledgment that probably saved his life.

As Breashears' team went back down, they passed several other teams on their way up. By nightfall, eight people had perished, including Rob Hall, a world-renowned climber and friend of Breashears. Hall was leading a group of individuals who had paid him a substantial fee to lead them to the top. Jon Krakauer, a writer and outdoorsman who was on Hall's team, would eventually write the best-selling book Into Thin Air, chronicling in heartbreaking detail what had gone wrong.

Among the tragedies of that day was one event that many later described as a miracle. The storm that had hit as Hall's ill-fated team made its ascent caused many of the climbers to become separated. One small group was in desperate trouble: They had lost their way in the blinding snow and had run out of oxygen. In an attempt to save their own lives, they made the difficult decision to leave behind one of their team members, Beck Weathers, a doctor from Texas. By all accounts, Weathers was already close to death. He had no pulse and appeared to be frozen in the ground.

The next morning, however, as Breashears and his team helped with the rescue efforts for those teams still on the mountain, word came on the walkie-talkie that "the dead guy is alive." Weathers had spent the night in sub-zero temperatures fully exposed to the elements. The next morning, as the sun hit the mountain, he awoke from a hypothermic coma and, despite snow blindness and severe frostbite on his hands and feet, managed to stumble into camp. He was eventually flown off the mountain in a helicopter rescue that had its own share of danger and drama.

Having reached the summit of Mt. Everest five times, Breashears knows what he wants in a team. Surprisingly, he's not necessarily looking for the best climbers. "I look for talented people who believe in their craft, not those who are looking for praise," he said. "The most important quality is selflessness. I knew that no matter what, no one would leave me behind," he joked.
Sharing a common goal and vision is critical, and no one's ego can take precedence. "People who say 'me first' can be dangerous on Everest." Indeed, in Breashears' experience, the teams that operate best have a higher objective than themselves. Humility makes a great leader. "The kind of leader I want wakes up and asks, 'What did I do wrong yesterday, and how can I fix it today?' Your team doesn't need to like you, but they have to trust and respect you," he said. "A leader who puts his interests first is a highly demoralizing force."

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

More Ways to Reduce Stress

Get control of your stress before it controls you.

Do something everyday that you enjoy

Record your thoughts in writing (in a journal or blog) This can help you gain a new perspective on events

Do something nice for another person

Try a simple exercise to relieve stress. Inhale through your nose until you reach a count of seven, then exhale very slowly through your mouth to the count of 16, or for as long as you can. Repeat 10 times.

Turn off your phone(s). You can't relax if the phone is constantly ringing.

Tomorrow is another day. Learn when to let go of today.

Teach yourself to become the changes you want to see in others.

Seek first to understand, then be understood.

Make time for yourself! Schedule some quiet time, and relax.

Learn the art of compromise. No one likes a person that is always rigid.

Get up from behind your desk and take a short break several times a day.

Don’t take yourself too seriously or nobody else will either.

Don’t let pessimistic or negative people bring you down. Be positive.

Get past your fears and try something new.