The PMO - Being Good - Aligning To Strategy

Being a successful PMO is not easy. Often, the PMO is portrayed as "the bad guy", forcing processes upon the innocent simply because those processes exist and/or being a general hindrance to getting things done. Because of this, I've seen some project management organizations spend a lot of time self promoting, being a cheerleader for sponsors and try to accommodate everyone while sacrificing the spirit of their individual charter.

Then you have the really good project management organizations. They became good because they survived the above scenarios, stuck to their guns and began producing quality output. Some of them are so good at running projects, they make it look somewhat easy and then executives begin to think that project management is easy. However, that is a tale for a totally different narrative.

A early view of my 2017 garden, pretty happy with the turn out later on!

A early view of my 2017 garden, pretty happy with the turn out later on!

How Import Is It To Be Good?

Billy Crystal used to have a character during his Saturday Night Live days called Fernando and I guess it was based upon a real person called Fernando Lamas. It is rumored that Billy Crystal came up with the SNL character because the actual Fernando Lamas once said on the Tonight Show, "It is better to look good than to feel good." 

It seems like many a PMO have a similar attitude with a small twist, "It is better to look good than to be good." This is a shame, what a missed opportunity! The PMO can be a great wing man for organizations to get more out of strengths, mitigate risks associated with weak areas and execute a series of endeavors to achieve long term strategic goals. 

Strategy, It Isn't Just A Word To Use For Wish Lists

I am amazed by how many strategic plans I've seen that have very little actual strategy within them. They simply have flowery narratives about opportunities, opportunities and yet more opportunities. You cannot actual tell what the organization wants to focus upon because it never actually says what opportunities it WILL NOT pursue. This is called selling the sizzle and not the steak and it can put the PMO in a bad position.

If the organization doesn't have a strong strategy aligned to PMO endeavors, the PMO is going to underperform to its potential value. This is because the PMO will float from addressing one disjointed project request to the next and never build any actual momentum in making something great. To achieve greatness, the organization needs to successfully chain a set of compatible projects so that the end result is greater than the sum of each individual success.

So What Can Be Done?

Well, this is a potential area in which the business analyst can add significant value. The PMO can empower the business analyst to review opportunities, do an overall market analysis and provide a recommendation of projects that could lead to a core strategic objective. PMO leadership can begin to sell the overall strategy to leadership and continue to refine their approach. Current projects that have touch points to the larger strategy could be tweaked in order to compliment each other. 

This course of action would not be easy but the defined goals can be achieved through careful planning, effective measurements, monitored execution and cross functional collaboration. At least, that seems to make sense to me and I’m certainly open to your thoughts and opinions! 

© 2017 Dwayne Wright