Saturday, February 07, 2009

The Virtual PMO and More: Reflections from the 2009 PMO Summit

On Friday, I presented on The Virtual PMO at the 2009 PMO Summit, hosted by The Performance Institute in Arlington, Virginia.

The concept of a Virtual PMO is gaining wider recognition as two parallel trends emerge: stakeholders and project teams becoming more dispersed across greater distances; and the role of the PMO expanding beyond project and program oversight to take on a more strategic role. This expanded role often includes all IT and business processes, portfolio management, resource optimization, and more (Terry Doerscher of Planview calls this emerging trend PMO 2.0).

In essence the PMO is being asked to influence a larger audience that is growing ever more dispersed---and is often asked to do it with less resources. Thus, the PMO is becoming more reliant on cross-functional teams, relationships with senior management, and resources outside of its control. During the presentation, I shared tools and considerations for working more effectively in such a virtual environment.

Before the event, I had a great conversation with Paul Ritchie of the Crossderry Blog (Paul is also the VP of the global PMO for SAP) and Tom Mochal, CEO of TenStep. We discussed a number of topics around PMOs, but three themes seemed to keep coming up:
  • The idea that complexity (and its alter ego, over-engineering) is one of the leading killers of PMOs
  • The need for flexibility, especially as the PMO scales across the organization and internationally
  • The importance of marketing and branding knowledge in order to sell the PMO across the organization, and influence stakeholders (we all agreed that marketing is an undervalued art in PMO circles)
Since flexibility requires the engagement of others, and marketing involves building trust, it seems right in line with the cornerstone principles of my company, The Marengo Group: SET (Simplicity, Engagement, and Trust). It's always good to have validation.


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