Mar 2, 2010

Looking Back at Some Winning PMOs

Posted by Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin in Culture & Change Management, Project Management Office (PMO), Resource Optimization | 0 Comments

Since today kicks off the 2010 PMO of the Year Award application period (see the contest information, and download application materials here), and since I've been writing a series about roles in the PMO, it seems a good time to review the previous winners of the award, and see what they have in common with regard to people management.

One thing that's immediately apparent is the quality of PMO leadership. It's been my privilege to meet almost all the PMO directors of the winners and finalists for the past four years (the leader of the Australian Securities Exchange PMO, a 2009 finalist, has been just about the only one who couldn't make it). While this may be a very subjective assessment, it's striking that, in retrospect, they were all charming and personable people ... "attractive" not necessarily in the sense of appearance , but in the sense that you wanted to spend more time talking with them, and that their enthusiasm for their work was contagious. At the same time, it was obvious that they were the kind of leaders who constantly say: "I couldn't have done it without (my team, the project managers, my executive leadership, my spouse)."

Several years ago, Dr. Frank Toney noted that humility was a characteristic of the best leaders; the PMO of the Year award-winning PMO Directors seem to bear this out.

It's worth noting, as well, that winning PMOs have primarily been staffed PMOs: they follow the trend identified in the research of centralizing project management roles in an organizational home within the PMO. And they have been intimately involved in helping their staffs succeed: providing training and other career development opportunities. Some of the top PMOs even have staked their success on developing their human capital; the case of American Power Conversion, a 2006 finalist, comes to mind: they meticulously baselined their project outcomes by whether the leading PM was PMI-certified or not, and then followed the trend of results as they pushed to certify all the project managers under their umbrella. The results were astounding: take a look at the graph of PMP-led projects vs. non-PMP-led at the link above.

All this makes sense, of course because, in the end. a PMO is just people. Trained and qualified people led by a director they have trust in ... are winners every time.

This just in: Our partner in presenting the PMO of the Year award this year is the PMO SIG of PMI. They've got a new blog all about PMOs: check it out here.


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