There is a great deal of information regarding the start up of a PMO. To help anyone that is trying to adapt either a Project Portfolio or Managment Office to a consulting model I wanted to share my personal experiences on the subject. Several years ago I was a Consulting Manager for a mid sized ERP vendor in the Toronto, Canada area and applied my PM knowledge base to the Professional Services organziation.
The company developed a best of breed solution that was popular with Fortune 500 large enterprise clients in North America. During my tenure there where close to 200 people staffed in the Pro Serve project implementation business unit. The 200 consultants where made up of Solution Specialists, Project Managers, Functional and Technical consultants. There was a Consulting Manager for Project Managers, Contractors, Functional, and Technical Consultants. The Vice President of the Solution Delivery department managed the Solution Specialists as well as providing leadership for the direction of the practice. Client Relationships where owned by a team of Project Directors that reported into the Professional Services Senior Vice President.
Part I – Setting Strategic Direction
I managed 53 functional consultants that played the role of Business Analyst, Implementation Consultant, QA and Rollout Specialist depending on the phase of the project. It was my responsibility to ensure that my team was staffed, getting feedback, being recognized for their project work and delivering successful solutions . The consulting managers worked together to ensure there was a good skill mix on each team as well as intervened in the event of a escalation. As you could imagine the challenge in this environment was standardization. Ensuring that the consultants on the same functional team where held to the same standards was a the first challenge.
Business Unit strategic objectives where set by the Senior VP and Career Development areas where set by the Consulting Manager. Leveraging standardized goals at the performance management level allowed the business unit to work towards common goals. Such strategic alignment has many positive side effects including crystalizing career path and improving employee engagement. Client satisfaction and project success rates increased as a result of the goals driving implementations in the desired direction.
This was a balanced matrix environment where Project Managers helped coach their project teams towards the same strategic direction that was set out by functional management and the leadership team. For the organization to benefit from this strategic guideline it is necessary for all sub-groups to be aligned and usally is driven top-down. In the event that middle management attepmts to interprete the direction the additional challenges will be buy-in and maintaining a common goal through out the company.
Next installment: Part II – Improving Project Satisfaction