This article was originally released on Tony Cronin's LinkedIn page here.
There is a video doing the rounds on social media where three experienced footballers are playing against a large group of kids. I think this is a good analogy for staffing a PMO with low calibre administrators rather than seasoned professionals who bring the knowledge, experience and authority to hold a programme team to account and help to ensure it achieves results.
If you set your PMO up as an administration function it will do the basics - manage a mailbox, ensure the risk and issue logs are maintained and get the weekly reports out on time. What it won't do is act in the proactive way necessary to add real value to the programme.
How to set your SAP PMO up to succeed
A PMO needs to be set up to succeed, it requires a delivery mindset and the individuals within it need to be brave enough to do some of the difficult things that no one else on the programme is doing.
- Making sure that the team is staffed by the right people with the right skills is a given. To be successful members of the PMO, the team need to take the time to try and understand the programme scope and schedule, speak to other teams and ask questions if things are unclear.
- The team need to have a delivery mindset. They should not be acting simply as a 'mailbox', they should focus on all tasks and activities and make sure they are completed on time. Deadlines and quality matter! If late activities or poor quality deliverables are 'tolerated' the programme will suffer.
- The PMO should call out risks early and surface issues that no-one else has seen or been willing to raise. The PMO should be scanning the horizon, analysing reports and other information and calling out anything that could impact delivery. At Resulting we refer to these as 'icebergs'.
- They should ensure that reports are fit for purpose. The PMO should be the team that ensures that reports and metrics are timely, accurate and provide the right level of detail. This will help to ensure that everyone that has a common understanding of status and can ensure that decisions are made effectively.
- Individuals should not be shy in escalating or flagging items as 'red'. This should not be seen as a failure, it should be seen as a call for help and a proactive first step towards recovering an activity. Good news doesn't usually age well and surfacing issues early gives the programme more time to react.
- Suppliers and vendors should be held to account. Every contract, statement of work or contract change will include obligations and deliverables. This is what the customer is paying for and if no-one is validating these before the bills are paid, the customer may not be getting value for money.
- The PMO should be able to operate all levels of the programme. They should be as comfortable with the C-suite as they are with a junior analyst and should enforce that both adhere to the same standards.
- ... and just as importantly, the PMO should be neutral, make sure judgements are based on facts and avoid getting involved in politics within the business. An impartial PMO is a PMO that will be trusted and listened to.
If your programme isn't doing these things, and your programme is consistently missing deadlines, ask yourself whether your PMO has earned its stripes.
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