Why the PMO is The AC-12 Of Modern Business and Why MMO Is More Important Than Ever
If you are a UK resident, you will no doubt be aware of its significant cultural impact on the BBC’s excellent, ongoing police corruption drama, “Line of Duty”.
I spent my Easter Break watching the previous series’ to be able watch them and to contribute to the gossip in the family group chat. I avoided spoilers while I did so.
It was easy to see how similar it was to be in charge of a compliance PMO to working in AC-12 Line of Duty’s ragtag anti-corruption unit.
I have used the term “PMO Police”, often to great effect, in the workplace. While I am not in pursuit of an OCG (that’s Organised Crime Gang to you uninitiated) or holding a firearm during embedding process I can’t help drawing the following parallels:
PMO’s time is often spent putting regulation paperwork in front people and asking them to reply within a timeframe (much like Reg 15 disciplinary notice).
Project Deep Dives and Health Checks often feel like interrogations. PMO building their case artefact after artefact, and then cries of “I’m still bent!” I’ve been too busy!” – As a poacher and gamekeeper (PM to PM Head), I can sympathize with you, but any statements you make may be disproved given evidence. I don’t make rules, I’m just an enforcer.
Like AC-12, PMO is not popular and can be seen as an area where compliance and process are perceived as a weapon to beat people with. I experience the most frustration and reluctance in complying with senior stakeholders who feel their authority has been challenged and areas that rely on delivering reactive offers. These business units often feel that they are being stifled by red tape and adherence with processes that feel both unfamiliar or unnecessary.
More than anything, I draw parallels between the strategic alignment and project portfolios and my favorite MMO detection framework – Motive. Means. Opportunity.
This is the key to identifying the basic framework that PMO should follow in order to accept projects into the pipeline for delivery. It also helps you identify the right thing to do for your business.
(Images: BBC/World Productions)
In this context, motivation refers to your strategic need for delivery. Does it move you in a positive direction? Does it align with a strategy? If so, how does it meet your needs? Is it in line with your organisation’s future state and priorities? What is its scope? Is it benefit driven?
In a project context, means is primarily cost and resources. While we won’t find any PS50 notes in this brown Jiffy bag, it is true that an identified source of funding is one of my biggest obstacles to putting projects into the pipeline. Who is paying for it How accurate is the cost estimation Are you aware of the project resourcing costs that are included in these costs?
While resources are crucial to success, it is more common to assume that resources will be available for projects instead of prioritisation or slotting. It is a sure way to cause more problems down the line if you don’t make space in your portfolio for resource and slot projects.
Opportunities usually refer to whether your PMO permits you to enter work into discovery and delivery without the above information being defined. This is usually when people pull rank or initiate a bypass procedure – identifying work that is too important to subjugate from established practice.
The PMO Police can be accused of slowing down on “Very Important Work”, when in fact the intention is to make the work successful.
It is crucial to start projects quickly, but any PMO leader who has worked in this field will know that it is difficult to do so without having any strategic requirements, resources or funding.