PMO – What is it good for?

It’s been some time we can hear about a trend of setting up Project Management Office or PMO.What is it, and what’s the value of this new organization for project and program management ?

Behind PMO is the idea to better control the risks of project management, which are multiple: missed deadlines, scope creep, lack in stakeholder involvement, unstandard reporting. But aren’t PMOs at the same time ad additional burden for project managers? In addtion to working with their teams and the customer, now they will also have to comply to PMO requirements? Is this not a waste of time for them?

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The Challenge of Change Management

Another book that completely changed my view on project management:

In Leading Change and the second volume – The Heart of Change, John P. Kotter speaks about the management of change on a business and organizational level, but also practically demontrates that every project, whether small or super-sized is a transformation of an existing system and has to be considered from that perspective.

Kotter makes the case that business companies can’t survive if they don’t continuously change and adapt to the external environment (this is something we already know), but also cannot survive if these changes do not alter profoundly the behaviour of people who work in these organizations. And to change the behaviour of people, a change agent must win first and primarily their hearts. Kotter here suggests eight-steps process through which one should first explain why change, develop a sense of urgency, create a guiding coallition, jointly develop the vision and the mission, provide short-term wins, and communicate, communicate, communicate.

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Managing Projects by Fun

I can’t help citing them – funny project management proverbs. I’m sure you will laugh:

  • A project is one small step for the project sponsor, one giant leap for the project manager.
  • If everything is going exactly to plan, something somewhere is going massively wrong.
  • The nice thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression.
  • At the heart of every large project is a small project trying to get out.
  • Good project managers know when not to manage a project.
  • A change freeze is like a snowman: it is a myth and would anyway melt when heat is applied.
  • Some projects finish on time in spite of project management best practices.
  • Fast – cheap – good: you can have any two.
  • The more ridiculous the deadline the more money will be wasted trying to meet it.
  • The first 90% of a project takes 90% of the time the last 10% takes the other 90%.
  • The project would not have been started if the truth had been told about the cost and timescale.
  • Never underestimate the ability of senior management to buy a bad idea and fail to buy a good idea.
  • People under pressure do not think faster.
  • The most successful project managers have perfected the skill of being comfortable being uncomfortable.
  • If it happens once it’s ignorance, if it happens twice it’s neglect, if it happens three times it’s policy.
  • There is no such thing as scope creep, only scope gallop.
  • Anything that can be changed will be changed until there is no time left to change anything.
  • If you can interpret project status data in several different ways, only the most painful interpretation will be correct.
  • Bad news does not improve with age and should be acted upon immediately.
  • It takes one woman nine months to have a baby. It cannot be done in one month by impregnating nine women (although it is more fun trying).
  • Any project can be estimated accurately (once it’s completed).
  • The most valuable and least used WORD in a project manager’s vocabulary is “NO”.
  • Nothing is impossible for the person who doesn’t have to do it.
  • Too few people on a project can’t solve the problems – too many create more problems than they solve.
  • The conditions attached to a promise are forgotten, only the promise is remembered.
  • Estimators do it in groups – bottom up and top down.
  • What is not on paper has not been said.
  • If you fail to plan you are planning to fail.
  • If you don’t attack the risks, the risks will attack you.
  • There are no good project managers – only lucky ones.
  • The more you plan the luckier you get.
  • A lack of planning by you does not constitute an emergency for me.
  • Everyone asks for a strong project manager – when they get him they don’t want him.

Seven Phases of a Critical Project:

  1. Wild enthusiasm
  2. Disillusionment
  3. Confusion
  4. Panic
  5. Search for the guilty
  6. Punishment of the innocent
  7. Promotion of non-participants