I’m going to state what I think a good PMO director needs to bring to the dance. I’m hoping on the couple of occasions so far where I’ve run the show that I did bring these things to the dance. At least I know I tried. And I will say that sometimes the organizational chemistry and process flow doesn’t always allow for the utopia that I’m going to describe. But getting somewhere close would be nice.
#1 – Manage the PMO, not a bunch of projects
The PMO director really needs to be a leader of people, not projects. I’m so tired of seeing PM’s who are spending most of their time leading the big projects also acting in the role of PMO director. It’s just not right. The PMO director needs to establish processes, identify training needs, knock down barriers, make connections, and fight for the PMO’s presence in the organization. It’s how the viability of the PM processes is maintained. You can’t rely on the CEO to suddenly think what you’re doing matters. Not when so many projects fail or have major issues. No, someone must be championing the organization. That’s the director. If he’s leading five projects of his own, he can’t do that. No one can.
#2 – Know your organization
The PMO director must know the organization. He must know how get information, favors, resources, and support. Unless it’s a startup situation, it’s very difficult to bring in an outsider as the director and have them be immediately useful. It’s better to bring outsiders in as PMs and promote a good leader to this role.
#3 – Care about the PM’s, not the politics
The PMO director must be ready to fight for the project managers in the PMO like the PMs fight for their customers. I’m sorry, but if I’m being pulled two ways – one way by senior management and one way by the customer – it’s usually going to be the customer’s concerns that I react to first. Likewise, the PMO director should be more concerned about his organization and fighting for it rather than playing a lot of politically games for senior management – unless that is in the best interests of the PMO itself. So many PMOs fail, they need a strong leader fighting to keep it viable.
#4 – Communicate well
Above all else – just like with any project manager – the PMO director must be a great communicator. Company policies, processes, planning, etc. must all come from this individual. And he must be a good listener because there are lots of project issues that arise that PMs need help with. Their success must be his utmost concern.
So, can I fire my PMO director? Well, sort of. If the needs of the project managers are not being met and if the PMO is faltering because of a lack of organized, efficient, and effective leadership, then waiting will only mean projects will fail. Customers will be lost. The company bottom line will take a huge hit. And so will careers. Staying quiet is not in anyone’s best interest. If it’s a common feeling (and not just your own grudge) that the PMO leadership is ineffective, it must be taken up the chain of command. And yes, then you can fire your PMO director. It would be your duty to do so.