Archive for the ‘PMO Blog’ Category

PMO – Project ‘De-motivational’ posters (just for fun ;-)

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

After recently catching up with an past colleague, she mentioned the new engagement she was involved with had the ‘motivational’ posters placed all around the office; you’ll know the ones… the posters with a black border and a photo of a person climbing a mountain with the word Achievement and words of inspiration written underneath ‘it’s hard when you fail, but its worse when you never tried to succeed’.

We got into talking about if these posters added value and the verdict is still open, but as the day went by, we also talked about being a realist and the constant challenges PM’s face delivering projects… And here was born the Project De-motivational posters…. they are just for fun, and give a dose of reality in the challenging world of delivering change.

There is a serious message behind each one of the posters; and that is, as a PMO I constantly see these events happening…. in most cases it’s different people, different organisations and projects, yet the same trends…  as project and change professionals it’s OUR responsibility to put them right.

Have fun reading through them, and let me know if you have any ideas of your own



User Testing Steering Group Status Reporting Stakeholders Risks Project Manager Project Budget PowerPoint Agile Benefits Business Case Deadlines Planning Constraints Planning

Change Request Scope Creep Strategy

52 Tips in Project Management – New to Projects? People or Process?

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

52 Tips to Break Into Project Management is a great idea by a dear friend and blogger, Geoff Crane @papercutpm – Geoff came up with the idea to ask 52 project people from around the world for their input into writing an ebook for his students. The ebook would collate the tips for his students to ‘break into Project Management’.

Geoff’s website has the book with all the tips from PM experts around the world


Below is the chapter from PMO Planet


Page 37 – It Ain’t Rocket Science


‘I went into Project Management because I was sick and tired of having a job, which was the same day in, and day out!’ –  It was Project Management that took me back to University, where I studied my degree in Project Management (Leeds Met Uni Rocks!).

So, after 3 years of studying vast amounts of project books, methods, approaches etc etc, I came out full of knowledge, and ready to manage projects – or so I thought!


Post University – the Wilderness years – compared to most people, I was the most technically trained Project Manager out there, and trying to apply all the knowledge I had to every project….just ‘p*ssed people off’.

After years of ‘annoying’ people, I came through to the other side and realized, that although the technical skills are important, the people skills are more important.


Projects are about people.


If it weren’t for the ‘customer*’ – there wouldn’t be a project.

(*and by customer I mean sponsor and people who want to use the cool stuff the project will deliver).


People are needed to deliver the outputs for the project; how can you help make life easier for the people involved with projects?


I usually coach Project Managers to start with the fact that Projects are there to reduce risk; they are there to increase the certainty of delivering something for their customer.

Risk isn’t exciting, but getting answers to questions like ‘what could go wrong?’, ‘what is the probability of getting it delivered on time?’, or ‘what might stop us delivering for the customer?’, suddenly makes project life a lot more interesting, and also helps to form a plan.

The plan is the most important communication tool a Project Manager can use, and this helps reduce uncertainty; it reduces risks, increasing the likelihood of success.


A plan is not just a list of milestones and tasks; instead it tells everyone involved:


Why are we doing the project?

What are we going to deliver?

How are we going to deliver it?

Who is responsible for delivering tasks and stuff?

When will the stuff be delivered?


Capture all of this, get it written down, then define and agree the Time, Cost and Quality and you should be off to a great start.


After all – it’s not rocket science 😉

Are you a Jedi or a Sith Lord Project Manager?

Saturday, May 3rd, 2014

Vader reading up on Project ManagementAre you a Jedi or Sith Project Manager?

Yes, I know… love it or hate it, Star Wars has made it into the world of Project Management…. and this blog is not about who has a big lightsaber?

Confession Time – I’m a massive Star Wars fan (Love the films but the fan stuff stops at getting dressed up for conferences!), and a couple of years ago I came across the Jedi code, which goes:

There is no emotion; there is peace.

There is no ignorance; there is knowledge.

There is no passion; there is serenity.

There is no chaos; there is harmony.

There is no death; there is the Force.

 This got me into thinking… do the best Project Managers (PM’s) apply similar values like in the Jedi code?

Should a Project Manager show emotion? Some of the best PM’s approach challenging and conflicting situations without emotion and tend to draw on the facts and options to resolve the situations.

No Ignorance; there is knowledge – PM’s are always better equipped when they know the truth and the facts about the challenges their projects encounter… sometimes paying attention to detail has to be a strength that the PM can draw on.

No Passion; there is serenity – showing passion can be inspiring, however Projects can be a very challenging environment where conflict can happen on many levels and on a regular basis. Being perceived as calm, peaceful and untroubled will help everyone else around you to keep their cool and address the issues in a professional manner.

No Chaos; there is harmony – Projects can be seen as organized chaos (oxymoron alert!), yet with a great emphasis on collaborative planning and teamwork, the harmony will come through and help everyone involved in the project will start to enjoy being involved – and to coin a famous phrase ‘a happy worker is a more productive worker’.

Finally – No Death; there is the Force – ok, a bit extreme, I’ve not seen anyone die on a project! (Not physically, maybe mentally), I guess we could take this one along the lines of after the Project has finished, what is the legacy? Should the better PM’s make sure that whatever the project delivers is truly embedded and being used…..avoiding launch and leave culture?

Putting the Star Wars theme to one side, some of the best project managers I’ve worked with have displayed some of these personality traits, and operating in a world of uncertainty whilst working alongside some strong personalities, following some of these values helps the better PM’s be perceived as great leaders, maintaining control, and keeping them away from the dark side and avoiding being seen as a Sith Lord.

May the Force be with you…. always

(May the 4th – international Star Wars day)

Project Management Around the World – (London, England, UK, Europe)

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-03-14 at 22.00.46

This blog is part of the #pmflashblog 2014, which has been kindly facilitated by the Sensible PM (see all of the activity on Twitter)

Diversity – I’ve been working in London now for many years, and on any project in the UK there will be people from may different nations and cultures.

The last UK’s census showed 37% of London’s population is born outside the UK, and 24% are non-UK nationals; add to this the millions of internal migrants of British citizens from outside London (I’m originally from Manchester, and educated in Leeds), its difficult to find someone in London, who was born and grew up in London.

Organisational cultures will vary, but in my opinion, Projects in the UK tend to be a culture of individuals constantly challenging others on ‘if we are doing the right thing’, as opposed to ‘the decision has been made, just get it delivered’; I guess this can be partly seen as a stereo type that the English can be perceived as always seeing themselves as being right (not always the case), and politely apologising as to avoid causing offence.

Projects in the UK generally have a high element of collaboration with colleagues and suppliers. This high level of collaboration is a great experience does result in great creativity and design (I mean, who doesn’t want to work in teams right?), which in most circumstances results in a great finished output for the project,  however, there are times when the high level of collaboration can also result in disagreements and delay, and as a result there can be an element of internal politics.

Back to the ‘Diversity’, every project I have seen in the UK has involved working alongside many different cultures and foreign nationals, which means the language used can be critical (even though we are all meant to speak the Queen’s English!); some of these language differences apply to national level within the UK (you can drive 10 miles in parts of the UK and hear a completely different accent); I am from the north of England and I’m commonly referred to as a ‘Northerner’, yet people born in the south are referred to as ‘Southerners’. Northerners in the UK are often said to be friendlier than Southerners, to the point that Northerners often refer to other people as ‘love’ or ‘duck’; at times, calling someone ‘love’ in an office environment might not be an appropriate term in certain situations.

A couple of weeks ago I was working with ‘our friends from across the pond’ (the dear ol’ US of A). I learned the hard way that a ‘Fanny’ in the USA is very much different from a ‘Fanny’ in the UK (google it), and our cousins from down under (Australia) they didn’t understand that in England a thong is an underwear garment which a lady wears, yet the Aussies argued wearing thongs on your feet.

I often find it amazing how we are often speaking the same language (the Queen’s English), but meaning different things, and if we are to get better at delivering more effective projects and changes, the language we choose, and the context in which it is used can improve the output for our project customers.

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart”.

Nelson Mandela

So what has this got to do with Project Management?

A Projects greatest achievement is made by the people involved; some of a Projects greatest failures can also be from the people involved. In Projects we deal with many people from different organisations and from different departments within organisations, each having its own microclimate of culture of ‘it’s just how things are done round here’.

Working on Projects in London develops individuals in understanding diversity, involving the benefits of having rich relationships with many different cultures from across all continents.

England has strong relationships with it’s neighbouring country’s in Europe where there are over 200 languages, and the strong ties with Commonwealth country’s (Historical British Empire and Colony’s) and has maintained very close relationships with the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, Indian region, Middle East, South America, and Africa. The more successful project manager’s in London have a strong awareness of themselves, and how others perceive them. With this strong sense of self-awareness a great project manager understands how they can adjust how they are perceived to help the project get the very best performance out of the people it impacts; understanding and language is key if a project manager is to communicate more effectively, getting the most out of their project teams through high engagement and collaboration.

As they say in the east end of London (Rhyming Slang)……PM’s can get it a bit arse about face, getting some aggro from the ol’ trouble and strife,  especially if arguing with a Septic Tank over a Sky Diver in the projects bread and honey. A great PM stays out of barney rubble avoiding the project to go all Pete Tong, if they can avoid having a darby and joan, and av’ing a dickey bird with the team, putting your best foot forward in your whistle and flute, and keeping your loaf of bread, placing a bit of adam and eve in yourself you could end up being chuffed to bits. Some blokes think this is a load of ol’ codswallop and that I’m taking the gypsy’s kiss (telling pork pies), but being aware of another culture can help keeping your project from becoming brown bread… I’m now of t’ boozer for a pint 😉

Screen Shot 2014-03-14 at 22.27.10

PMO Manifesto

Friday, February 7th, 2014

The PMO Manifesto, guiding principles for the PMO profession, is launched at Ticketmaster’s HQ in London on Thursday 20th February.

The new Manifesto will invite PMO professionals from around the world to connect and unite; show solidarity and support to their peers whilst driving forward their profession and delivering the highest value to their organizations.

The PMO Manifesto was created to raise the profile of the profession of PMOs around the globe whilst creating guiding principles that lead to increased success of PMOs in organizations today.

Created by PMO Flashmob members led by Ralf Finchett Jnr and Lindsay Scott; the PMO Manifesto is the result of crowdsourced knowledge from some of the leading PMO professionals in the UK today.


About the PMO Manifesto

The PMO Manifesto was created by the attendees of the PMO Flashmob a monthly meetup in the City of London for PMO professionals to network and learn from each other. Based on the idea of the Agile Manifesto, it was agreed that PMOs would benefit from a similar concept.

PMO (Project, Programme and Portfolio Office) has increasingly become a career of choice within project management. Whilst there is a lack of recognition within the wider project management community of the true value of a PMO and the people who work within them – the community continues to raise awareness and champion the benefits of a successful PMO in organizations today.

The PMO Manifesto was written in Autumn 2013 and will be launched with the support of PMO enthusiasts – Ticketmaster, the leading on-line ticket purchase organisation.


About Ticketmaster PMO

Gerry McDonnell, SVP Technology at Ticketmaster, “We take the function of the Portfolio and Project Management Office very seriously at Ticketmaster and have shown the value it provides to the company both at project and portfolio level. We’re therefore delighted to be hosting this event our new Angel offices to facilitate the great work of the PMO Flashmob and their launch of the PMO manifesto which will go a long way to help define the benefits of a well-structured independent PMO within an organisation.”

Ticketmaster is a Live Nation Entertainment, Inc company. Live Nation Entertainment (NYSE-LYV) is the largest live entertainment company in the world, consisting of five businesses: concert promotion and venue operations, sponsorship, ticketing solutions, e-commerce and artist management. Live Nation seeks to innovate and enhance the live entertainment experience for artists and fans: before, during and after the show.

In 2009, Live Nation sold 140 million tickets, promoted 21,000 concerts, partnered with 850 sponsors and averaged 25 million unique monthly users of its e-commerce sites. For additional information, visit


About the Launch Event

The launch event takes place on Thursday 20th February, 6pm to 11pm at Ticketmaster:

4 Pentonville Road, London, N1 9HF.

Anyone with an interest in PMO is invitng to come along to the launch event to learn more about the PMO Manifesto over pizza and beer in Ticketmaster’s new cool bar at their HQ.

To book your attendance please visit:

For more information and booking your free place visit: or

PMO's will be sliding tonight!

PMO’s will be sliding tonight! The bar at Ticketmaster will be the venue for the PMO Manifesto

Why the 3×3 Project Risk Scoring Matrix doesn’t work on Portfolio’s?

Saturday, February 1st, 2014

RiskThis has been a frustration of mine for a long time – how many Portfolio’s collect all the Project Risk Logs (or RAIDs) and then say this is the Organisations Portfolio Risk Log….. WRONG!!!

The top scoring aggregated Project risks are not Organisational Portfolio risks. There might be the odd one or two which comes from a Project and affects the whole Portfolio, but generally one set of risks focus’s on delivery of a single project (outputs and plans etc), the other should focus on the impact to the Organisations ability to absorb change, and if there is any risk on the Organisation not achieving its strategic aims and objectives.

‘No single raindrop was to ever be blamed for the flood’

The unofficial standard for for scoring Project risks tends to be the 3 x 3 box matrix (sometimes 5 x 5) prioritising project risks on a Impact vs Probability axis. There is nothing wrong with this approach for single projects, and its one technique I’m often working with Project Managers to use. The challenge for Portfolio’s is that there might be some project risks which are low / low in a project, but then the Organisational Impact can be high.

Risk 9 Box


Using the diagram to the left, Risk number 2 could apply only to that project, yet risk number 1 could apply to the whole Portfolio. Now the purists out there will be saying, the Project Manager should rate is as a High, but the realists will understand that Project Managers are focused on only their project, and there is a ‘risk’ that Project Managers don’t always take into account the impact on the Portfolio.

This can leave a dilemma for the Portfolio Manager….. they haven’t the time to analyse all risks from all projects, yet they also can’t rely on just ‘top’ project risks.

An experience Portfolio Manager will adopt a scoring system for projects which will still use Project Impact and Probability, but also add in another level for Governance (or Escalation or Organisational Impact). Taking a simple adding up of the score e.g. 3 for high, the Portfolio can them filter by the high scores, and help the Project Manager thing about the impact of Project risks on the overall Portfolio.

Portfolio Risk Scores


A word of caution for all Portfolio Managers, this approach of aggregating Project risks in to a Portfolio Risk log does not solve the identifying of Portfolio risks. There should still be the activity for the Portfolio Maanger to work alongside the Exec and Senior Leadership of an organisation to identify and manage delivery risks, strategic risks and operational risks together; spend time out to understand what bad things might happen, and how can we stop them happening.


For more information about Project and Portfolio Risk Management, click on this link for the Risk Management page



What is a Portfolio Office?

Sunday, January 26th, 2014

One question with so many answers…..

EPMO, CPMO, PPO, PMO, ABC, 123…. la la la….

Lets start with what it is not…. a Portfolio Office is not about standards, or training, or templates, or dashboard reports…

Although these are activities that a Portfolio Office could class within it’s accountabilities, the main objective should be a commercially driven one; something along the lines of ‘accountable for the business to realise the best value proposition in delivering change that drives the organisations strategic objectives’

Run the Business, Change the Business, Run the Business – this is the reality of ensuring all change adds value in taking the organisation to where it aims to be.

If Portfolio Management states ‘are we doing the right thing‘, then the Portfolio Office should enable the organisation to choose the right things to do, and ensure the best value proposition of these changes are selected, and then executed; always ensuring that they are landed at the right times for the business to take ownership.

Cash flow (budgets) and resources should become a major part of supporting the choosing of the best value propositions, which ultimately become the projects and programmes.

For more information about the Portfolio Office, check out the link below that leads to our page on the Portfolio Office (or copy and paste the link below).

The Greatest Ever Project Sponsor – Mandela

Sunday, December 8th, 2013

Nelson Mandela - the World's Greatest Ever Project Sponsor

Nelson Mandela 1918-2013 – ‘The Greatest Ever Project Sponsor’

PMO Planet’s Top 20 Mandela quotes for PMO’s and Project Professionals

For those who know me on a personal level, South Africa has a very special place in my heart, a place where part of my family still call home. It is an impressive country, both geographically with its diverse wildlife and mountain ranges (Cape Point, Blythe Canyon etc), but it is also made even more beautiful by it’s people.

The passing of Tata Madiba Nelson Mandela is an event which brings a great era to an end, but, if you have strong foundations, you are able to build large and impressive buildings; I am sure South Africa will continue to flourish.

Nelson Mandela was an incredible person, they type of person, who will never be replicated and forever remembered. His approach to hold no bitterness for years of imprisonment should be recognised as a lesson for us all to bare no grudges and forever look forward to the future.

Following Nelson Mandela over the years, I have taken so much inspiration from his quotes and speeches, and I have found that some of Mandela’s views and insight can be related back to the project management world…. After all, for me, he is the greatest ever project sponsor that has lived. He managed to change a country; he influenced an adverse and strong stakeholder opposition, and never left focus on his vision, until ultimately realising the benefits for all he believed in. More importantly, he brought all different groups of people along with him on that incredible journey of change.

On a smaller scale, I feel we can relate some of Mandela’s views and insight to the world of PMO’s and Project Management. PMO’s are delivering change on change leaders, with Project Management professionals delivering change to the masses.

Below is my tribute to the ‘Greatest Ever Project Sponsor’ with my personal top 20 Mandela quotes. Most are self explanatory on how they relate to delivering and embedding change, and also for Project Management Leadership, but I’m sure when you read through them, they will also have their own meaning for you:

1. “Education is the most powerful weapon, which you can use to change the world”.

2. “It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership”.

3. “If you talk to a man in a language he understands that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart”.

4. “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner”.

5. “It always seems impossible until its done”.

6. “We must use time wisely and forever realise that time is always ripe to do right”.

7. “A good leader can engage in a debate frankly and thoroughly, knowing that at the end he and the other side must be closer and thus emerge stronger. You don’t have that idea when you are arrogant, superficial and uninformed”.

8. “When water starts boiling it is foolish to turn off the heat”.

Nelson Mandela

9. “It is wise to persuade people to do things and make them think it was their own idea”.

10. “Before I went to jail, I was active in politics as a member of South Africa’s leading organization – and I was generally busy from 7am until Midnight. I never had time to sit and think”.

11. “Difficulties break some men but make others. No axe is sharp enough to cut the soul of a sinner who keeps on trying, one armed with the hope that he will rise even in the end”.

12. “I like friends who have independent minds because they tend to make you see problems from all angles”.

13. “Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do”.

14. “Lead from the back — and let others believe they are in front”.

15. “Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again”.

16. “A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination”.

17. “I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death”.

18. “Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do”.

19. “When people are determined they can overcome anything”.

Finally, one last personal favorite of mine for all you PMO and Project professionals out there……

“After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb”.

Now you’ve had chance to have read through these inspirational quotes, take one or two and apply them back in your project world….. after all PMO and Project Leadership is a journey.

PMO Nightmares !!!!! boo!

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

PMO Nightmares – stuff that makes a PMO scream!!!Halloween PMO Planet


Boo! For our Halloween blog, a couple of PMO people in our network have decided to come up with our top 5 PMO nightmares….. If you have others, please feel free to comment below (we would love to hear from you)


1.       Projects changing without the PMO made aware

Arguably, the PMO has lost control. All projects are all based on estimates, and these estimates can be wrong and therefore subject to change. It’s a matter of how much change is allowed to happen within the project without the involvement of formal decision making to agree a ‘new estimate’.

Every project should have a baseline. The baseline is a snap shot of the project estimate at a point in time which the project can be measured against. Usually the baseline is for time, cost, and quality, but could also include scope and benefits.

The PMO should hold this information for the project early on in the delivery lifecycle, with the PMO requesting the project to be reported in the same way each week / month against this ‘baseline’. It still amazes me when I work with some PMO’s and they don’t have a standard list of all the projects in that department, or the estimated budget and milestones that a project is delivering too. At least if the PMO holds this information centrally, they can report if projects are changing, even if the changes have not been approved.

Ultimately, the PMO should be business driven, ensuring the projects are aligned to strategic objectives, and therefore the project should have the scope, costs, benefits etc all held as a baseline for the organisation; if the project is found to have changed, the PMO should have the appropriate governance to escalate changes to plan.


2.       Project Managers not reporting on time and wrong format or quality

There are two reasons for this, the first being that project managers do not see the value, and the second is the reporting takes extra effort.

PMO’s should keep reporting simple, and approach the task as ‘once and done’. Many Project Managers (PM) have a Project Board or Steering Group which they generate a report for, and then a PM also has a PMO requesting a report (which are aggregated across multiple projects). The biggest mistake a PMO could make is asking a PM to report to the Project Board in one format, and then fill in a different template for the PMO.

PMO’s should devise one format for both scenarios, and keep it very simple. The highlight report should cover the basics of information that stakeholders need to make effective decisions. The report should be a blend of past and future (more weighted towards the future) information and activity, and not a report of justifying what was done last week / month. The clue is in the title ‘highlight’, and not detailed report; Keep the reports simple, and to be used for discussion and decisions.

PMO’s should take time to engage with Project Manager’s and show them how and when the PM’s information is used. If PM’s are aware of the senior audience that PMO can engage with, most PM’s will ensure that their reports are of the highest standard.


3.       Compiling Board Reports

Copy and Paste does not add value! When designing Board reports, ensure there are 3 key things a PMO should have set up:

–          First is an agreement from the Chair and Stakeholders on the type of information they need to see so they can enact effective decision making. The PMO may need to make suggestions, but, at least there is the agreement upfront

–          Second, devise reporting templates which can be easily aggregated from many projects. Excel is usually the tool of choice for most here, and a PMO can temporarily employ someone who can create a macro which aggregates up the various project reporting templates, ultimately removing the need to copy and paste. The long term aim should be to move to some form of Enterprise Project / Portfolio software. In either of these situations, the PMO should be clear on what information is required and from where, and when.

–          Last, a month end process; don’t let others drama, become the PMO’s crisis. It should be clear to all who are responsible for producing reports, to understand the deadlines. A month end process can be very simple and effective. The PMO can produce a calendar for the year showing when project reports etc are due into the PMO, then when the PMO will aggregate and challenge, until cascading the report out to the senior leadership audience.


4.       People not following the process or lifecycle

A clear lifecycle for all projects to follow is the backbone of effective organisational delivery. The Governance is the muscle that wraps around the backbone and makes it move.

Governance is critical to ensuring a lifecycle is effective and followed. Depending on the industry and project capability of the organisation a PMO operates within, depends on the level of adherence and discipline that should be followed by all.

If a lifecycle is created e.g. Design Build, Test, Implement… each phase should have the baseline view of costs, milestones, scope etc, and then report against this baseline at the appropriate governance meeting where changes to plans can be approved or rejected.


5.       Lack of interest and decisions by Sponsors

This links back to the 3rd point on board reports. Agreeing what the Sponsors want to see is critical; but, this can also be an art form.

Understanding how the sponsors like to see information will create more interest, but also ensuring that there is a greater emphasis of the future (what will happen next) seems to get more interest.

The information should be presented as if it was telling a story. It starts with a single piece of data, that on its own doesn’t mean much, because it has nothing to be compared against. So, the PMO took another piece of data and put the two side by side to create information; now we can compare and make a judgement on is this good or bad news? Finally the PMO (with their good friends the project managers) played over some knowledge onto the information, explaining what the information was telling them.

Producing a single piece of data on its own can be frustrating; leaders will ask ‘what is this telling me?’…. keeping interest usually means ‘be brief, be bright, and be gone’. Highlighting a 30 mph speed limit on its own doesn’t tell us anything, play over that we are going at 100 mph in a 30 mph zone is not good news, then say that if we don’t slow down, we are at an extremely high risk of crashing and someone will get hurt; we need to take action….. Now it’s interesting.


There are many more nightmares out there, maybe, if your PMO is having many nightmares, maybe it’s time to look at the purpose of your PMO, and ask, what problem is the PMO trying to resolve?…. then define what should the PMO do….. and it would be great to hear from you all…. sweet dreams… mwha ha ha har


Happy Halloween



“What does Project Management mean to me? – a Project Managers Sermon”

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

“What does project management mean to me – a Project Manager’s sermon”

Project Management made simple and easy


Three people are arguing over who has the oldest profession in the world. A Doctor, an Engineer and a Project Sponsor were all arguing…

The Doctor stated that God removed a rib from Adam, and therefore must have required a surgeon; surely his was the oldest profession in the world?

The Technical Engineer shakes his head and says ‘no, no, no!’; the bible states God created the world out of void and chaos, and therefore engineering is the oldest profession in the world….

Then the Project Sponsor says, that God would have sponsored the Project, and who do you think created the Chaos?

Finally, there is a small voice from the corner of the room, and the PMO moves from the darkness into the light, and says ‘This world is one of many in the Portfolio, and who do you think facilitated the sanctioning of the project in the first place by aligning it with the overall strategic objectives? Oh and by the way, you lot never delivered it right in the first place, because we are all still trying to fix the bloody thing, and the benefits have yet to be realised!!! and one last thing…. Where’s all the change request forms for all the changes you have made to the planet?’


So what does project management mean to me?

It shouldn’t be this complicated; projects are becoming more relationships and politics rather than delivery. When did we all change these rules????

I have now been involved in project management or 20 years, 15 of this in a leading role, and 10 years as a PMO; I have been privileged to have worked many organisations, I have worked with over a 1000 people and over a 1000 projects, yet over these years, with all the training courses, we don’t seem to be getting any better at delivering projects?



One common trend I regularly see is that the vast majority of projects are not complicated, yet people make them complicated.

Many, many, years a go, I studied for a degree in Project Management at university and after 3 very long years, graduated with an honours degree. I came out of university feeling full of optimism to join the masses, expecting we would all be fully trained to tackle most project related situations; I also felt others with experience would be just as well trained, through their experiences.

From planning, to business cases, project financials, risks, issues, change control, configuration management, requirements definition, quality management, lifecycle and methodology, tracking and reporting, team building, stakeholder management, value management, earned value, PPM enterprise software, contracts and legislation, health and safety, governance boards, resource management… is it any wonder that we sometimes get it wrong?

As an industry we have all become fixated on training people on project management; yet, most people don’t apply the very basics.

Over 30 years ago we designed and built nuclear submarines and power plants, built sky scrapers, designed and built Concorde… we put a Man on the Moon!!!

All without Project Management Software or any Project Management training courses.

For some of these projects, I’m sure there were complications and delays on the way, but my point still stands, they all used the basics.


Should Project Managers become more….. simple?

Project Management to me, means avoiding the current trend of turning a project managers job from what could be seen as a pure relationship role back into a project management role; doing the basics and doing them well.

I’m not saying that relationships and politics are not important, or managing stakeholder expectations should be ignored (and at your peril!!), yet so many projects seem to be just about this, and have less focus on leading a team to design and deliver.

In my PMO role, I am responsible for mentoring and coaching Project Managers, and too many times, I ask the very simple questions and often get a complicated answer, and sometimes I don’t get an answer.


Projects should be able to tell a simple story:

–       ‘Why’ are we doing this?

–       ‘What’ are we delivering?

–       ‘When’ and ‘How’ are we going to deliver this?

–       ‘How’ are we doing?


Now over play some project techniques:

–       Business Case – ‘Why’ are we doing this?

–       Project Initiation Document and Requirements Captured – ‘What’ are we delivering?

–       Plan, Risks, Resources – ‘When’ and ‘How’ are we going to deliver this?

–       Tracking and Reporting – ‘How’ are we doing?


Isn’t this what stakeholders want to know?

So, if a Project Manager does the basics, and does them well, surely this makes the relationship and stakeholder management situation easier?

When a Project Manager has to report on potential issues or problems, the same message applies:

–       What has caused the problem?

–       What is the impact?

–       What can we do about it?

–       When can this be done by?

–       What decision are you asking me (the project sponsor) to make?

Project Management is all about Managing Deliver

Most stakeholders want a project to deliver.

Project Managers should be able to cover the basics e.g. agreed design of the products, how much has been spent? How much is forecast to spend? When will the products get delivered? Any potential problems?

My old Martial Arts instructor used to say to me when I was competing in tournaments…. (think Micky from the film Rocky) “Stop doing the flash and fancy stuff, you’re getting caught out… do the basics and do them well, that way you won’t get you’re ass kicked!!!”

Project Managers – do you want to avoid getting you’re ass kicked at work? – do the basics and do them well!

Project Management is capturing all of these essential points and displaying them in a simple and effective message, then leading a team to build really great and cool stuff……. afterall …

…It ain’t rocket science 😉


(catch all the #pmflashblog, #pmot or #ftpm  activity on twitter today – 25th September 2013 – there are over 70 of us all preaching Project Management)