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When project management becomes an enforcement exercise


Do people in your organization groan when they have  to deal with the Project Management Office (PMO)?  Are they worried about getting their wrist slapped, again? Was another checklist left with an unchecked box causing angst amongst your project managers. Do calls from your PMO often go ignored, emails left unread and meeting invites postponed?  You may have a Project Management policing complex.

Project managers become enforcement officers when the appropriate policies are not developed or implemented with a strong governance framework. When project managers don’t have a strong framework from which to work, delivery suffers. Project objectives and strategy are often overlooked because the focus has changed from scope and budget to checklists and forms. By developing and implementing a Project Management Governance and Policy framework into a PMO, the need for constant policing is eliminated and the focus can return to the effective execution of projects.

A Project Management Governance and Policy framework will establish a uniform approach to project management that defines how your organization will manage projects/programs from initiation to implementation and close out. The following explains guidelines to follow in order to be successful with this endeavour.

Step 1: Identify clear project management governance principles to set a strong framework for project management. By identifying these best in class principles at the onset, it will help shape the course of action from the rest of the implementation. Here are some examples:

  • Project Management Policy Ownership
  • Project Management Lifecycle
  • Committee Structures Management
  • Project Gating

Step 2: Involve Key delivery stakeholders in the policy development phase. By including these individuals up front, they will be better able to understand the need and importance of various policies. This will help with buy-in from the team because the stakeholders will own it just as much as the Project Management Office.

Step 3: Implement a strong governance structure that can oversee and manage policy development, implementation and execution. The governance structure should be transparent and empowered with appropriate authority levels, governed by a series of committees. There should be three levels of committees that have oversight of the program: an Executive committee at the Strategic Level, a Working committee at the Project or Program level and finally Working groups at the Tactical level. Involvement at all levels strengthens the structure and sets the stage for Step 4.

Step 4: Ensure policies and governance are aligned with the strategic objectives of the organization. Steps should also be taken to ensure that the policies and governance don’t override project benefits. The policies and governance structure needs to be flexible enough to maintain order, but to meet the objectives of the project.

The Payoff

Investing in sound and strategic policy development and governance up front, will free your project managers from their enforcement work so that they can get back to running successful projects to drive your business forward. Projects are completed on time and on budget, morale improves and the overall efficiency of the PMO increases.

The Takeaway

Don’t let your project managers become enforcement officers. After PMO policies are developed and in place you will see a transition that turns your project managers back into the superheroes they should be. Taking the time to set up the proper infrastructure outlined below will turn your organization into an efficient and effective powerhouse of success.

  1. Identify best in class project management principles to guide your framework.
  2. Involve key stakeholders and decision makers from the start. Your front line people know what does and doesn’t work.
  3. Implement a structure to govern the process in order to achieve success.
  4. Align policies and governance structures to the overall strategy of an organization, but not at the expense of project benefits.

OPTIMUS | SBR will be at the upcoming ProjectWorld & Business Analyst World Conference this May 14th and 15th at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. In the weeks leading up to this, we will be publishing a series of blog posts related to Project Management.

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