May 9, 2012 | Author: PM Hut | Filed under: Project Management Office
The Amish House and the Project Management Office
By Steve Hill
PMOs are built to define and maintain the standards of process for project execution within an enterprise. While there are many additional roles assumed by a successful PMO, the core responsibility is to manage the process. My observation is that this begins with a base set of processes that are matured over time to meet the needs of an organization. On the surface, this works well, however an unmanaged maturation of process can result in a loss of direction if the evolution of governance is not carefully managed.
Anyone who has ever driven through an area where the Amish live has seen a great example of evolutionary construction. An Amish man buys farmland and builds a house for his family. As his boys become adults and get married, they add a section to the house to accommodate the new family. The quality and craftsmanship are impeccable but if there are two or three more sons, the house can begin to meander in several directions from its original design.
In order to accommodate greater demands, many organizations fall into the trap of creating a maze of process that corrupts the once strong base of successful process. In the case of a maturing PMO, the necessity of growth can drive the imposition of increasing process to the point where it outweighs practicality. Too many times I’ve seen projects stifled by excessive procedural requirements inhibiting rather than supporting project success. The desire is not to impose more process but to better manage project execution.
Project schedules are expanded to account for the additional requirements and costs are driven higher while productivity drops. Avoiding this requires the foresight to apply governance supporting the needs of the organization rather than allowing an explosive application of process for process’ sake. It is at this point that the body responsible for supporting effective project execution has lost their way.
The successful execution of projects requires a minimalist approach. That is not to say that any of the standard pillars of project management should be ignored, rather they should be protected from additional requirements that take time and focus that is needed to address project expectations. Most truly successful project managers will, within reason, do what is necessary for their project to succeed. In environments that have overwhelming process, they will ignore that which prevents their team from being successful.
When working with PMOs to help improve project execution, I have almost always found some element of excessive process having a profound effect. The discussion that follows this revelation is often a list of reasons why it is necessary with an acknowledgement that not every project really needs it every time. The cure is simply stated but hard to execute – “simplify”. Get rid of that which is not necessary and contributing to the success of project execution. If it cannot be disposed of, use resources other than key team members to handle it.
More to come…
Steve Hill is a Performance-driven Senior Manager / Executive with notable success in managing the creation and execution of strategic initiatives at small, medium and large clients with a clear focus on business value. He has strengths in formulating long-term strategic policies, technological initiatives and execution governance in support of evolving business needs. You can read more from Steve on his blog.
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