Daily Archives: September 13, 2013

PPM is important, but it should be done by a COE that functions as a PTO. Not a PMO.

Confused yet? Let me explain.

Late this spring, over on Spend Matters, Pierre Mitchell, noting that PMOs have failed in IT asked Should We Really Use Them in Procurement. This post, which followed Jason Busch’s post that asked Does Procurement Need a PMO? (Spend Matters Plus Content) offered may reasons why a PMO should be pursued in Procurement. However, in SI’s view, not one justifies the focus on a PMO.

A PMO, short for Project Mmanagement Office, is a group or department within a business, agency or enterprise that defines and maintains standards for project management within the organization. (Source: Wikipedia) This department, which strives to standardize and introduce economies of repetition in the execution of projects, sounds good in theory, but has often failed in practice, especially in IT. Why? Simply put, you can’t manage what you don’t understand — and IT projects, which are exceedingly complex in nature, can only be understood by the senior engineers, software architects, and developers capable of implementing them. They’re not going to be understood by a two-bit run-of-the-mill project manager whose background is a basic business degree and training on the PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge). The few IT projects that succeed are those that are managed by former engineers, software architects, and/or developers that have been trained in basic project management (and not the other way around). It’s the same reason mathematicians (given enough Ritalin*) can make great (forensic) accountants, but accountants make bad mathematicians. (Who, when they see 2x + 2 will ask “two times what”.)

Similarly, there are some Procurement projects, especially in high-tech, medical, and automotive, that are too complex for an average project manager. These should not be managed by a project manager, but by a domain expert. However, they should be tracked and the appropriate resources made available by a Center of Excellence (COE) that functions as a Project Tracking Office (PTO). This COE would insure that the domain expert has the appropriate tools, methodologies, and processes at her disposal and the training to use them, as well as the necessary training in project management. In addition, it would focus on Procurement Performance Management (PPM) and, as Pierre Mitchell noted, act as a TMO — Transformation Management Office.

In other words, SI agrees with Pierre Mitchell in that there is a need for better Project Management, and in particular, Project Performance Management, in Procurement — but disagrees in the approach. We need to focus on the COE — not the PMO. It’s important that the focus is on excellence, not the mundane.

* Let’s face it, Accounting is pretty boring to a mathematician who might need a little help focussing on it for eight hours a day.