A Let’s Talk Project Management

1. Project Managers are professionals.

I’ve worked within numerous companies that treated their PMs as cheap (not inexpensive mind you), transferable, commodity-type resources. In some cases, if you could type on a computer and take notes, you could become a project manager. However, we must continue to push ourselves out of the habit of relegating PMs to project administrative duties. I sympathize with project managers who only set up meetings, take copious notes for meeting minutes, and update other’s tasks in a project plan. If this is what we expect from our PMs is it any wonder that project success rates continue to be so low?

Project managers should be leaders within the organization. They should be empowered to drive and to deliver what the company expects. Employee (or even consultant) engagement and enablement are key. If lowered to the level of project administrator, not even the most experienced PM will be able to succeed.

Project Manager assisting another team member

2. PMs, I don’t need to know your title.

Some organizations have a multi-layered system of project manager job descriptions. These may be encoded as project manager one to project manager five, or they may mirror the old Big Eight consultant titles of PM: Senior PM, PM Manager, PM Senior Manager, PM Director, and so on. I have been a national lead, a project manager, a program manager, a program director, and a solution lead. Do these titles mean anything? Not really. I expect you are more interested in my talents and skills, as opposed to simply my title.

PMs should be ranked by their capabilities, not their titles. Have you managed a project that lasted more than 12 months? Have you overseen a team of more than 50? Are you good at tracking actuals, forecasting, andrationalizing variances? How good are your team-building skills? What about collaboration? The axiom of not judging a project manager by their title seems apropos. A predefined stair step of title promotions based solely on tenure is not appropriate; individuals should move up they demonstrate the next level of skill.

3. Implementation methods don’t need to impact a PMO

Although Waterfall is still here — and will be for a long time — the world continues to move to Agile. Package application development methods are different than either Agile or Waterfall. And let’s not forget that product development is not the same either. The PMO should be adaptable and able to meet the needs of the organization, regardless of the types of delivery methods utilized by the organization. Don’t forget, PMOs oversee non-IT projects and those do not have any application lifecycle management!

PMOs have holistic responsibility for delivery. They collect details, provide visibility, and drive resolution to problems. A delay in this process is a delay whether it be waterfall or product development based. Portfolio visibility is across the suite of initiatives, independent of the tools used to manage each. Let’s keep the focus on what a Project Management Office does and not be distracted by delivery methods.

4. Which software is right for the PMO?

Have you defined all your requirements for a new tool? What about the requirements of the PMO’s key stakeholders? Should you use one of the Magic Quadrant tools, leverage SharePoint, or custom build something in Excel?

First, focus on the processes. A sophisticated status and portfolio tool will not benefit your organization if project managers do not understand appropriate levels of reporting status. An engineered estimating solution will be less effective if your team does not know how to estimate and does not record actual hours spent. An application for automating portfolio management will not pay off if the organization does not understand the principles of prioritization and trade-offs. It is important to think about getting the organization to work effectively before trying to automate. There are many tools to do this effectively. However, it is essential that you do your prep in terms of roles, processes, and organizational change management. These identifications are important regardless of which tool you choose.

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Do you need further help on a program, project, portfolio management, or software evaluation and selection? Contact Us.




Our mission is to serve you, our client, and be the outside thought leader, facilitator, project manager, change agent, and catalyst to create a plan and help bring that change to life. Let TSI discuss a proven and cost-effective approach to help your organization evolve.

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Transforming Solutions Inc.

Transforming Solutions Inc.

TSI’s business and higher education consulting services improve efficiency, growth, quality and performance. We do this through people, process, and technology!

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