Jun 25, 2009

More On Governance and the PMO

Posted by Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin in Governance, Portfolio Management, Project Management Office (PMO) | 1 Comment

I'd like to tie those last two posts together with a couple of thoughts engendered by listening to Kent's keynote, and by some of the conversations I shared with PMO directors at the Summit.

"Governance" is in danger of becoming a buzzword. It's one of those ideas that many corporate leaders accept is important, and necessary, without having the time to really drill down into what that will mean for their organization's processes.

Yet, like most profoundly important ideas, governance is pretty simple. I liked the definition Kent used in his presentation, from the IT Governance Institute:

"A set of responsibilities and practices in use by executive management with the goal of:
  • Providing strategic direction
  • Achieving objectives
  • Managing risks
  • Using resources wisely."

When I read that list, I thought: sounds like simply what executives are supposed to do. Yet how easy it is, especially in public companies with the pressure to boost stock price; or in public agencies blown about by the winds of politics; to forget that wisely providing direction is what it's all about. Every now and then we need a new word to buzz in the ears of management, waking them up to thier true path.

When the buzz of governance is paired with the concept of the PMO, I think we are really getting somewhere, however. The definition of governance above asks leaders to rise to the occasion. The PMO gives them a structure for doing that.

Why do I say that? --in part because I've read, heard and seen that, without a PMO, the portfolio management process goes astray ... and without portfolio management, you don't really have a mechanism for governance. In our 2007 book Seven Steps to Strategy Execution, Jim Pennypacker wrote:

"Each level within the organization must apply the same principles of setting objectives, providing and getting direction, and providing and evaluating performance measures. A common governance framework ensures that decisions are made the same way up and down the organization ..."

True. And some entity within the organization must specialize in making these processes flow up and down the organization; must be the seat of metrics collection and analysis; must red flag what isn't working and grease the wheels for what must work. And if that entity isn't a PMO ... then what is it?

Any alternative structures I should know about, readers, for governing the portfolio of projects that is today's organization?

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1 Comment on More On Governance and the PMO

SOX Solutions says:

I agree that Governance could be applied to the “entity” of PMO, however given how specific some of the auditing requirements are, I would assume that the detailed project management really will be held in the internal audit department given their independence requirements and objectivity.

Posted on July 3, 2009 at 2:56 pm

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