Best of PM Network 2007 – Growing Pains

PMNetwork_Feb2007This article was put together by Janet Liao in the February 2007 edition of PM Network, in the “Best of Congress Papers” feature. This is about work done by Laura Aziz, Ph.D., PMP and Bruce Woerner, PMP on PMO maturity. I really enjoyed the model they use, with 4 components and 4 life stages in an analogy growing from babies to adults.

In the model put forth by Aziz and Woerner, there are 4 components considered.

  1. Vision and strategy – clarity of purpose, corporate alignment
  2. Operations – methodology, communication, knowledge management
  3. People – the mix of who is making things happen
  4. Metrics – qualitative and quantitative

They match these up in a matrix with 4 life stages of a PMO.

  1. Baby
  2. Adolescent
  3. Early Adulthood
  4. Adult

“Until children learn to tie their shoes or to brush their teeth on their own, they will have trouble getting going without help from others…[once those operations are mastered,] the child will be able to focus on higher-order activities of growing up.” – Woerner

Personally, I think the key thing that kills most PMO’s while they are still infantile is failure to establish and maintain alignment with the vision of the company. When this alignment is lost, it becomes more difficult for officers to see the value and benefits causal to the PMO. You may have mature processes, great people, and a handle on the metrics, but at the end of the day, a PMO (and project management in general) needs to deliver value to the business.

Depending on the company, another major obstacle to the formation or maturation of a PMO can be politics. A mature PMO should be instrumental in the analysis and selection of projects to work, and projects to kill. This conflicts directly in many cases with the “pet project” selection method used in most companies. With sketchy details and little evidence for merit, many projects get underway because they are “cool” or in some other way will make the executive sponsor look good. This is a horrible way to select projects in most cases, and only a mature PMO provides the alternative of making decisions with real data to work with.

Click here to leave a comment and let me know I’m not talking to myself!

Best of PM Network 2007 – Index

About the author


JoshNankivel Josh Nankivel is a Project Planning & Controls Control Account Manager and contractor for the ground system of the Landsat Data Continuity Mission, a joint project between the USGS and NASA. His academic background includes a BS in Project Management, summa cum laude.  He can be found writing and contributing in many places within the project management community, and his primary project management website is located at pmstudent.com.

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