Dear reader, don’t be alarmed – this IS your regularly scheduled article!
I’d like to thank Sante Vergini for providing the inspiration for the first topic and the second one had been a splinter in my mind so I couldn’t wait till next week to write about it.
Why oh why would someone set up a virtual PMO?
In one of my past articles, I had written about the challenges of establishing and running virtual PMOs. I’m not referring to a PMO which is staffed by geographically distributed team members but rather one which has not been established as a staffed organizational entity. Virtual PMOs might be setup as a single individual spending a portion of their time delivering PMO services or a group of project management practitioners who commit some time to this.
Given that it might be difficult for a virtual entity to elevate organizational PM capability, mature project portfolio management practices or provide a meaningful delivery oversight function, why would organizations choose to go this way?
The most simple use case is when the leadership of a small functional organization-oriented company starts to realize the need to standardize or improve the company’s project management approach. The first person who starts to apply some project management discipline might be drafted into being a PMO of one.
Funding constraints could be another reason to establish a virtual PMO. The majority of PMOs are cost centers and the ROI for the investment in setting up and running a PMO might take a few years. If leadership recognizes the need to do something to improve project outcomes but funding is limited, one approach is to establish a community of PM practice and empower that group to design and implement change on a best effort basis.
Once bitten, twice shy might be another driver. Leadership teams which have lived through the fallout of a failed PMO might try to avoid the sunk costs of Groundhog Day syndrome by going the virtual route. Of course, if they haven’t addressed the root causes for why the original PMO failed, they shouldn’t expect miracles from a virtual approach.
A standard should be the means to a goal and not a goal unto itself
Repeatability is a good guideline when elevating organizational project management capability. But standardizing how information is captured needs to be carefully weighed against the benefits of tailoring and customization.
So what are some criteria which would justify standardizing a specific project management template?
If the information within it is going to be ingested by some automation to feed other processes then standardizing the format will improve processing efficiency and quality. If the consumers of the completed template are working with multiple project teams, there is a benefit in providing them with a consistent look and feel.
But if these conditions are not present, the emphasis should be on the quality of the content and not on the format or structure. If there is still a perceived benefit in standardization, effort should be invested in developing a template which can be easily populated, easily updated and presents what is required by its consumers in a minimally sufficient manner.
Anything more is waste.