With all due acknowledgement (and apologies) to Monty Python’s Flying Circus, whose film The Life of Brian inspired this post.
THE INTERIOR OF A DIRTY CITY PUB. A SHADY BACK ROOM WITH A CONSPIRATORIAL ATMOSPHERE. We join a meeting of the Project Managers’ Revolutionary Front, where Brother Reg (the chairman of the meeting) is proposing a motion to the members (all Project Managers), and a CxO guest.
REG (gesticulating at a complex diagram on a flip chart): …So we break into the PMO, set fire to the methodology and sabotage the automated status report reminder email! Who’ll second me so we can take a vote?
BRIAN (a project manager): Are you sure we should actually be ransacking the PMO, Reg? I mean, some of the stuff they do is really quite useful…
Reg: Useful?! Don’t make me laugh! What has the PMO ever done for us?
Brian: Well, the project management methodology makes sure we all talk the same language; before we had a PMO we didn’t know whether we were using PRINCE2® or the PMBoK®!
NIGEL (another project manager): That’s right Brian, and they update the methodology with Lessons Learned so it’s relevant to our projects and not over-bureaucratic
SISTER SUSAN (another project manager, under her breath): Unlike these meetings…
[Sniggers all round]
Nigel (quickly): They do health checks to identify where our projects may be at risk, and help us to bridge the gaps.
Susan: And they develop user-friendly document templates to save us time
Reg: OK, so there are two things the PMO has given us…
LORETTA (a CxO): Well, they distil all the project reports into concise, executive-friendly information so that we know what’s going on.
Brian: …and they build project plans that we can actually use, rather than just stick on the wall and ignore like we used to…
Loretta: …and they prepare exec-specific views of the plans…
Reg: Well yes obviously planning, but what else?
Nigel: They keep an eye on the details for us…
Brian: And that’s where the devil is, isn’t it people?
[Nods and murmurs of general agreement]
Nigel: Yeah, like actions for completion; risks for review…
Brian: Exactly! They liberate us to manage our teams to deliver on time, to quality, and within budget.
Reg: Alright, I accept the PMO vitally underpins delivery of the project portfolio, but apart from methodology management, terrific templates, intelligent information, practical planning, and monitoring the detail, what has the PMO ever done for us?
Susan: Well, remember those “zombie” projects that we should never have started but that just wouldn’t die? They got those stopped…
Loretta: And that freed up some budget for projects that deliver benefits!
Reg: Hmm, this meeting isn’t really going the way I planned it.
Susan (just loud enough for everyone except Reg to hear): Maybe he should have got the PMO to run it!
[Amused guffaws. Reg looks frustrated. The laughter fades into awkward silence; the meeting seems to have rather lost its purpose]
Reg: All those in favour of going for a curry?
Copyright © Ken Burrell, Brilliant Baselines Ltd June 2012
- Agile PMO Series: A fresh start for project managers and team members (ibm.com)
- 5 Steps to Pump Up Your PMO Performance (news.dice.com)
- The Project Management Office Air Travel Analogy (candidcio.com)
- Aligning PMOs using Game Theory (leadinganswers.typepad.com)
- The rise of the PMO (apm.org.uk)
- The top 5 PMO myths (polarisoft.com)