[00:00:00.430] - Chris
In this episode of Great Practices, we'll learn about a four step process to determine the services your PMO will offer. Talk about the different types of PMOs, how to map people to the various roles needed, as well as get the word out that your PMO is open for business. Plus, we'll find a way to extend the shelf life of a PMO, so it doesn't begin to stink after two to three years. So let's get right into this episode of Great Practices with Bill Dow.
[00:00:26.460] - Narrator
It's hard to say when something is a best practice, but it's much easier to know when something is a great practice, and that's what this podcast is all about. Interviews with CMO and project management leaders through years of trial and error, have discovered their own great practices and are now sharing their insights with you. Now sit back and enjoy the conversation as Chris Cop uncovers another great practice in this episode.
[00:00:56.570] - Chris
We'D like to welcome you to this month's episode of Great Practices, and I've got to tell you, I have been looking forward to having this conversation for some time now because I am just a firm believer that every Department within a company should operate as a company within itself. And that certainly includes a PMO. So we know that companies offer products and services, and it should be no different than how you set your project management office up to see how you're going to be able to offer that as a service offering.
[00:01:33.270] - Chris
But where do you even start? Where do you even begin to go down that path of setting up your PMO as a service offering? That's the topic for today. And we've got a special guest, Bill Dow, who is going to take us through a process to set up our PMO as a service offering. So, Bill, welcome to Great Practices. Looking forward to having this conversation with you.
[00:01:53.860] - Bill
Thank you, Crystal. I've really enjoyed it. I know we touch base a couple of weeks ago and I was Super Super excited about meeting today and really having this conversation. So thank you for inviting me.
[00:02:05.100] - Chris
Well, I'm glad you're here. So let's first of all, start a little bit about who you are and what you do.
[00:02:10.730] - Bill
Great. So as you said, my name is Bill Dow. I have 30 plus years of hands on experience in both PMO and project management. I started managing my first project in 1991 and my first PMO in 2000. So lots of experience, lots of background, huge passion in this space. I've been a speaker around the world. So from London, England to India, all over North America, and I've actually written four books. So the PMO Lifecycle Building, Running and shutting down Project Management Communication Tools, the Tactical Guide for Building a PMO and back in 2008, Project Management Communication Bible.
[00:02:50.430] - Bill
So I have a huge passion in this space. I absolutely love it. I love sharing my background. I love sharing my experience. And as I said, I'm thrilled to be here today.
[00:02:59.060] - Chris
That's great. Well, that's coming across loud and clear. So basically, you know what's up? That's what I'm getting out of this. So let's go to the very basics. Let's start with your definition of a PMO. We always ask that question first. So how would you define a PMO?
[00:03:15.870] - Bill
Well, I love that question. I get asked it all the time. Right. I've written two books in the subject, and I've done ten PMOs across my career. And what I love about the question is it's so different for every company, right. I'm actually writing an article on this right now, so I haven't actually put out what is the PMO. So I'm literally writing an article on this. The thing is that it's so different from company to company, and everyone defaults to it's a project management office, right.
[00:03:45.850] - Bill
Project management? No. It can be a program management office. It could be a project support office. I talk about a little bit later in the four PS of the PMO, but it's really important that people don't just say there's one definition and they don't just default to it being a project management office. And so I think it's really important to understand when you define your PMO, you have to define what are you doing? What you do defines what the PMO is. And that's why it's so radically different from company to company.
[00:04:18.330] - Bill
[00:04:18.690] - Chris
And I think that's the thing that even on the PMO Leader website and the conversations that have been coming through there is that PMO is not only in the United States are different, but certainly globally are different as well. So it's always good to have that differentiation of exactly what that PMO is.
[00:04:36.930] - Bill
We see that in the UK, right. A PMO in the UK is radically different than a PMO here. We just see those definitions come up all the time. And Lindsay Scott, there's a lot of great work that's being done in the UK from PMOs, but it doesn't translate necessarily to the US and Canada. And so that's an important conversation, right. When people are seeing these documents and they're seeing these blogs and these articles when we read PMO, it actually is very different.
[00:05:03.870] - Bill
[00:05:04.330] - Chris
Very true. So let's talk about this idea of a PMO service offering. Now, that just sounds like so abstract and so ethereal or whatever. Right. Where would you even start to put together a PMO service offering? You have kind of a process for that, right.
[00:05:24.920] - Bill
I do. Yeah. I have a four step process now just to kind of level set. Right. This is my 10th PMO that I'm managing now. And I didn't do this from number one. I've learned as I went right. I've got stronger and better and faster and all that as I went. And so when you think about service offerings and you think about defining PMOs, I really feel that there are four main steps. And so when you think about it, the first step is your executives. So you have to break it down to what are the executives wanting for a PMO?
[00:05:57.240] - Bill
Do the executives want a PMO because they had it in the last company. Do the executives want to get a pet project done? So hey, let's build a PMO. Do the executives have no idea what a PMO is, or do they know exactly what a PMO is? So when you're defining your service offerings, your step, number one is to talk to your executives, talk to your management chain, talk to everyone up above, above you to really define what they're expecting the PMO is going to do.
[00:06:27.190] - Bill
And it's just an initial conversation, right? It's not locked in stone. It's just the initial conversation to really capture what they want.
[00:06:35.550] - Chris
And that goes right into the question. The first question we ask is, what is the PMO? Because they're all going to have different perceptions of that themselves. Right. So you've got to clarify that certainly with your executives.
[00:06:46.730] - Bill
Yeah. Right. So again, service offerings, what a PMO does. It starts with your executives. If they know what a PMO is, they're going to drive what they want. If they have no idea, then you're going to go into these next sets of steps. But it's very clear they know what they want you're doing. That the amount. Okay. So the next step is you click it down a little bit and you look at your business problems. One of the business problems that your senior leaders, not necessarily executives, but your peers, your senior leaders, your customers.
[00:07:23.860] - Bill
What do they expect? And what are the business problems that they want the PMO to solve? So let's take some examples. We have horrible, consistent delivery on our projects. We have no face gates, we have no communications, we have no Cr process. We don't have a status report, whatever these business problems are, and we see them across every company. We see them across all these projects. What are these business problems that your peers and some of your executives, but mainly your peers and your customers. What are they expecting the PMO to solve?
[00:08:01.910] - Bill
So you now have a view from your executives and you have a view from your peers and the senior leaders of what business problems.
[00:08:10.940] - Chris
[00:08:11.360] - Chris
And it sounds like that's going to be so specific to each company. Right? That's like the DNA of each company is those two pieces right there.
[00:08:19.860] - Bill
Because you think about leaders who are driving HR, driving, finance, driving all these various things they're going to say, hey, execution in a project is terrible or is great or no one knows what red means. No one knows what yellow means. All of these things that is in the DNA of a project, governance of a PMO. All these things are really key to a particular company.
[00:08:44.810] - Chris
So you have to lock those in so what's step number three?
[00:08:48.720] - Bill
Okay, well, then step number three is when we get into the type of PMO. Now, there's eleven type PMO, and I'm not going to rattle off eleven, but you definitely can go Google those. But basically, the top three are directive controlling and supportive. Okay, so let's talk about directive. For example, directive is where I've had most success is we're executing projects. I want weekly status reports, I want weekly financial updates. I want risk and issue logs. I want action logs. That's a directive, right. We are really driving how the program and project managers execute their projects because we're looking for scale.
[00:09:32.450] - Bill
I have 35 project managers working for me. They all have to do the same dashboard. They all have to say red, yellow, and green. Are these definitions? Controlling is really around compliance. It's still around providing templates. It's still around. But controlling is not as used as often as directive. And then the other one that's used a lot more. And I ran one at Microsoft. I'll talk about that is supportive. So the one I ran at Microsoft was purely a supportive PMO. And so what does that mean?
[00:10:04.100] - Bill
That means I created templates. I created tools. I created PMP training. I created all these amazing project management things, and they chose to use them or not. They chose to show up to the PMP class. They chose to use the risk and issue log. I had no say over whether they were going to do it or not.
[00:10:26.910] - Chris
So why do you think controlling is less used in those three?
[00:10:34.470] - Bill
Well, because we're heading towards Agile, right. We're heading towards when you think about control and you think about compliance, you think about using standard templates, standard forms. Right. And so with Agile, and the way agile is kind of taking over, we're trying to get a little bit out of that less rigidity and more into a little bit more flexibility. And so not many projects are really going to want all that rigor. And that structure, however, hasn't completely knocked out of the park. There's still a lot of predictive.
[00:11:07.500] - Bill
There's still a lot of hybrid. And again, I think it's the scaling question is really the key here. Right. 35 project managers across 90 to 95 projects. You need scale there. And that's where that directive PMO is really valuable. But there's something to be said for a supportive PMO, but you just have to go into that with eyes wide open so you can create the greatest materials, the greatest PMP training or agile training, whatever. They don't actually have to do it. You're only supporting New York.
[00:11:42.100] - Bill
You're not forcing them to use it or not.
[00:11:44.340] - Chris
And again, I think that's going to come down from what the executives have defined and what the business problem is, right. I mean, I think that makes perfect sense as the third step, because then you'll know what you need in order to accomplish those first two goals.
[00:11:57.090] - Bill
Yeah. Something to be said for each of them values on each of them and disadvantages on each of them as well, for sure.
[00:12:05.280] - Chris
All right. We are now at step four, then. So what does that look like?
[00:12:08.650] - Bill
Okay. And that is your four P or your PMO. And so when you think about your four PS, you think about portfolio, program and project and the fourth P being people. Okay. And so that is something I've coined you a long time ago, but I just want to step back and really talk about what does that mean? That means PMOs can be project management. They can be program and project. They can be portfolio, program and project. They can be every combination. And you need to know that that is the big what what are you doing?
[00:12:42.080] - Bill
I'm managing programs. I'm managing a portfolio. I'm managing projects. So it's the combination. And every executive is going to have their own opinions of what's in and out of your PMO. But that fourth P really summarizes with those other three components. Summarizes what your PMO does.
[00:13:03.480] - Chris
Beautiful. I think to your point, it's the scope, right? It's the scope of what your PMO is going to do. All right. So let me see if I got this right. Step number one is make sure that you've got a clear understanding of what your executives want, right? Step number two is you've got a clear understanding of what the business problem is, and you're going to get that from your peers. You're going to get that from your colleagues. You get that from your customers. As far as what you're trying to solve, step three is determine what type of PMO is going to best address those.
[00:13:32.040] - Chris
And then step number four is define the scope of that PMO. So there's the beginnings of that whole service offering idea.
[00:13:41.550] - Bill
Imagine laying that out on a PowerPoint deck on an Excel spreadsheet. Just laying that out. This is what the executive said. There is a business problems here's. The type of PMO, it's a vow shower. I'm just serving up. And then here is the I'm running portfolio. I'm running project. I'm running right. It's when you lay all that out, you're basically defining your PMO, right? You're basically being able to step back and say, wow, this is what they expected to be. And I'm big into. You can't measure and you can't improve if you don't know.
[00:14:18.470] - Bill
And so these sets of questions and these steps that we've gone through gives you this wealth of data and the wealth of data will let you construct what your PMO should be.
[00:14:30.170] - Chris
Yeah, it's fantastic. All right. So it sounds good in theory, right? This looks good on paper. So give us some real life examples of how you've set this up.
[00:14:39.430] - Bill
Can you walk us through 100%? I've done it in the last three or four PMOs. So multiple at Microsoft and the current one I'm in now I've done this exact same step. So I literally worked with my leadership. I collected the business problems, I determined what type of PMO and my directive and my supportive. What am I doing? And then we got into as a program, as a project, as a portfolio. And I laid all that out. And so one of the things I did is I actually created this tool called PMO Roles and Responsibilities staffing Model.
[00:15:11.040] - Bill
I put in my latest the book, the PMO Life Cycle. And basically what it does is, it looks like a race. Every project manager loves a race. This is no different. But basically what this looks like is we have defined with all that rich data we were just talking about. We define the services down the side, take a typical table in Excel, it's service service. And then all the details of what they do. And then what we said at the top is, who are the roles who's playing that so great example, one of my executives asked me for, you have to do portfolio management.
[00:15:48.660] - Bill
I said, Great, this is what portfolio management does. Oh, I don't have a portfolio manager. I just use this tool as a justification to hire. And so you actually can use it to say, these are the services you've asked me to do. Here are the roles that would do those services. I have the staff where I don't have the staff. And then, of course, you fill in the race, the A's, the R's and Z's, right. And it literally allows you to justify the staff for your PMO.
[00:16:20.370] - Chris
Where can we get access to that tool? Where did you say that?
[00:16:22.630] - Bill
Yeah. I put in my book the PMO Lifecycle Building, running and shutting down one of the templates that's in there where I explain all this.
[00:16:28.820] - Chris
[00:16:29.450] - Bill
[00:16:29.660] - Chris
No, that sounds like you're saying there's the service offerings, right. That will map to what you're trying to accomplish.
[00:16:35.950] - Bill
[00:16:36.930] - Chris
That's a great approach.
[00:16:38.500] - Bill
And the people right. And then the people who say, hey, at a portfolio manager is accountable for all the portfolio management work, but there's no name. Okay. Either I hire or I can't do that piece. But you specifically ask for that piece.
[00:16:53.000] - Chris
It becomes very clear as far as what the gaps are then.
[00:16:55.990] - Bill
Yeah. Just like a racy. Right. Like we're all PMS. We're all TTL PMS. And I was like, I love a racy. How would this work with a racy? Right. But I've used it multiple times. So I've taken and use these four steps across two companies, multiple PMOs, and it works perfect. It literally works perfect.
[00:17:17.750] - Chris
So let me ask you this question then. Now you could have the best product, the best service offering possible. Right. But if people don't know about it, it's not going to do anybody any good. So we've got this element of marketing that has to come with this whole idea of running your own company within the company. So how do you market your PMO service offerings? How do you get that word out?
[00:17:40.650] - Bill
Sell, sell. Right. I think there's a component of being a PMO direct or manager that you're constantly selling. So one of the things I did 304:00 p.m. Os ago is I created a walking deck or a marketing deck or an elevator speech, if you would. Right. And so I was at Microsoft at the time. And then we're all big PowerPoint, folks. And so it's really around. Hey, what do we do? What are the mission? What's the vision? What's the goals? What are the objectives? What are the service offerings?
[00:18:10.850] - Bill
What are the roadmap? What are the functions? Who's the org chart? What's in the org chart? Right. And when you wrap all this up into this nice document, you can then go have the leadership conversations, the customer conversations. Because not only do define what you do, it also defines what you don't do. And you wouldn't believe when I offer. And I put these service offerings up, they go, oh, I just thought you were doing programs or projects. Oh, no, we do dashboards, we do governance, we do lean Six Sigma, we do change management, right.
[00:18:44.080] - Bill
There's all these things that we do. And if it's not on this list, we currently are not doing that. So I think it's important to find what you do and what you don't do as well when you're establishing and building out your services and your walking deck.
[00:19:00.690] - Chris
I love that idea because of a walking deck, because here's the deal. Leadership is going to change, right?
[00:19:07.210] - Bill
[00:19:07.400] - Chris
I mean, it is just going to change as months and years go by. There's going to be new people that are in those roles, and it's just so easy to explain it to them what you do. So that's a really good approach.
[00:19:18.440] - Bill
They come in and go all the time. And one of the first things I do as a leader is I go, okay. And I fire up my walking deck, and I go through business challenges, and I go through the mission in the org chart and all that stuff. But I zero in on that service offerings. This is what you're doing more than program surprises. Yeah. We're a huge organization. We do all these things.
[00:19:40.710] - Chris
And you and I had talked earlier because there's, like, a startling statistic that you've kind of uncovered that a PMO has a shelf life of maybe three to five years, right?
[00:19:52.550] - Bill
[00:19:53.260] - Chris
And I think we've all seen this in various organizations. They'll expand, they'll contract, they'll expand, they'll contract. And that's usually a three to five year cycle, so that walking deck will help through those scenarios right there. But why do you think this happens? Why does that happen to PMOs and not to other functions in a company?
[00:20:12.760] - Bill
Yeah. Again, I claim this in both of my books. I call it the PMO cycle. And basically, when you think about this, executives last three to five years. So how many times do you get an executive that will come into a company that had a PMO before? And what's the first thing that executives will say? I need a PMO. I had it before. I need it again. It's going to do online projects. So because they actually turn in that three to five years, and it's still a pretty accurate statistic.
[00:20:44.500] - Bill
That because they turn so often you see the PMO's turn and you see them shut down again. I've done ten. I've done ten for a reason because they shut down, they come up, they shut down, they start up. Right. But I'd like to shift the mindset a little bit, so totally agree that's three to five years. But I think PMO managers need to change their mindset a little bit. They know executives are going to turn. And so what I would say is that if the PMO managers, directors, whatever level is, they're focusing on running an organization and they get themselves embedded in how the company operates, then yes, executives can go and come and go.
[00:21:28.030] - Bill
But it's going to be less likely that the PMO will go. And so when you think an HR director running HR, a finance director running finance, a PMO director should run and operate that same way. And I really do that would slow things down a little bit. But so many directors and PMO managers are focused on programs and projects and executing governance and executing those projects on time, on budget, all the agile and all that goodness. They lose the fact they're running an organization, and therefore it makes them a little bit more.
[00:22:02.970] - Bill
They can shut them down a little easier.
[00:22:05.370] - Chris
[00:22:05.870] - Chris
No. That's potentially disturbing that that could happen so easily. Like you're saying those other functions, it just does not happen that way with other core functions in a company.
[00:22:19.530] - Bill
Yeah. Think about right. When an executive, a CIO leads or vice President or President leads. Does finance shutdown? Does HR shutdown? No. Right. But a PMO will, in many cases because someone will come in and either say they're useless. I don't need them or I need them. I need this DML. Right. And so that three to five years seems to be a very valid statistic.
[00:22:46.140] - Chris
But it sounds like if you've done the steps that you've talked about and your PMO is delivering and you can speak to it quickly and eloquently and factually and with results, marketing people are looking for value. Business leaders are going to be looking for value. So if you can show that value is there from all of these steps that you've done, you probably stand a pretty good chance of at least making it through that next leadership transition.
[00:23:13.390] - Bill
Yes. And one of the things I talk about in my book is grabbing multiple leaders. Don't hang your hat on one leader. Get multiple leaders connect with multiple leaders. And so when one shuts down or one leads, you're not guaranteed to get a shutdown because you've got support across multiple leaders. When you tie your hat to one and one leads you're in trouble. But do you really show that strategic value and that seat at the table, then it will most likely shut down?
[00:23:43.250] - Chris
Well, Bill, this has been a great conversation. Thank you for sharing a lot of these great practices with us. And here's the great practices I'm taking away today, Bill, is your four step process, right? Determine what your executives want, solve the business problem, determine the type of PMO. And then what's the scope of that PMO going to be? Those four P's portfolio program projects. And, of course, people and all of that market that PMO. Make sure the word is out there. And I love what you said earlier about tie yourself not to just one executive, but to multiple leaders within the company, because that's going to rough times or transitions that will help ensure that the PMO will continue in business.
[00:24:30.630] - Chris
So real good insight there. Where is it that people can connect with you? What's going to be the best way that they can reach you?
[00:24:40.440] - Bill
Yeah. Thanks. So I love for people. Go check out my build at Lpnp dot com site. I'm always putting new articles, new stuff up there. Obviously LinkedIn. You can get me on Twitter. You can get me in my email directly, which is built out atpublishinglc. Com. So multiple different ways to get a hold of me. But I really appreciate the conversation. It's been great.
[00:25:04.810] - Chris
All right. Well, we appreciate your time this afternoon and we look forward to seeing what you got next. And I believe you're speaking in Bulgaria or something. Yeah. Right.
[00:25:17.140] - Bill
Yeah. Pmi Bulgaria. We talk about service offerings. We go much, much deeper with tools and templates, and we go really deep into the subject really passionate about it.
[00:25:29.430] - Chris
Outstanding. Well, they are in for a treat.
[00:25:31.470] - Bill
[00:25:32.430] - Chris
Thanks, Bill. Well, that was a great conversation with Bill, and we appreciate him being on the show today. You could definitely tell that he's been doing this for a long time and is excited about this topic. So what are some of the great practices that we are able to take away from today's episode? Well, first of all, there's the four step process for defining the services that your PMO will offer. Remember those four steps. First of all, find out what your executives want from a PMO. Second, find out what business problem needs to be solved.
[00:26:09.990] - Chris
You can get that from peers, colleagues, customers. Third, determine the PMO type. Is it going to be controlling, directive, supporting or any of the other eleven different types of PMOs? And then finally define the scope of what your PMO will cover. Here is another great practice now that it's set up. Love that idea of a walking deck, a marketing deck, an elevator pitch to explain to peers and executives what are the services that your PMO offers, what you do, and many times more importantly, what you don't do are very helpful in setting your PMO up for success.
[00:26:53.450] - Chris
And finally, what about not hanging your PMO hat on just one leader in the organization? We all know change happens, and you want to make sure that the value that your PMO brings to the organization is seen across multiple business leaders. So that's an important practice as well to implement when setting up your PMO. So again, great conversation with Bill. Be sure to check out his book the PMO Lifecycle Building, Running and Shutting Down. Among the other books that he has written. And as always, if you have a great practice that you'd like to share and you'd like to be on a future episode, go to the Pmoader.
[00:27:35.230] - Chris
Com click on Community and then click on Great Practices. You'll see a form at the bottom to fill out and we'll get back to you shortly to discuss your idea. So thanks again for listening to this episode and keep putting great practices into practice.