Thursday, October 25, 2012

PLM and the PMO

Program Lifecycle Management is the recognition that specialization is not the only or even the best answer towards managing complexity. Often times, an excessive focus on specializing specific areas of expertise merely adds to the level of complexity and confusion that typical PMOs face every day. The truth is that many if not most of the people who support PMOs need to be generalists to fully grasp the breadth of topics that they are expected to deal with. It is very difficult to get work done if a parade of experts is required to fulfill everyday tasks and worse yet if that parade constantly changes as the industry rapidly evolves.

The key to PLM is understanding that the PMO runs on information. That information must be easily accessible, transportable, translatable and must be available directly to the decision makers without going through layers of expert interpretation first. This doesn’t mean that other folks don’t add value to the information, there will always be a need for diverse skills in the PMO, however it means that EVMS analyst is no longer primary interpreter of financial data and that the requirements analyst is not the only person who can produce requirements reports. The reality is that no matter how many specializations are created, the core processes are still all related within specific contexts. Those contexts then allow us to provide a holistic view of what’s happening in the PMO and more importantly illustrate why it is happening.

The PMO is the entity charged with what Gartner describes as "Integrating Eosystems."

So, What is an PMO
A Program Management Office, or PMO, is an entity charged with management of one or more programs and portfolio of systems or perhaps specifically with the integration of those systems. The Enterprise PMO concept or title began appearing in print about five years ago, but despite the amount of time that's passed since then, the practice of Enterprise PMOs haven't progresses much beyond the original PMO paradigms.

In other words, the true potential of the PMO has yet to be fully realized but for a few exceptions. The obvious question is why isn't this occurring more rapidly? Some might feel that the charter for an enterprise PMO is beyond the scope of what most PMOs are charged to be accomplished. It might be considered dangerous or out of scope to try to plan for or manage relationships and interactions that occur around the PMO rather than within it.

The problem with this thinking though, is that nearly every IT focused PMO is now expected to integrate within the larger context of their enterprise. Even non-IT PMOs feel the pressure for increased oversight and accountability and all PMOs share one characteristic in common - complexity.

The complexity that must be managed in order to successfully execute a program is perhaps the single greatest challenge facing leadership today. The advantage with a PMO that is designed to be an enterprise PMO from the ground up is that complexity is tackled directly, with mitigation built into a set of fused processes.

Copyright 2012, Semantech Inc. All rights Reserved


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