The Program Management Office

I was browsing the local Half Price Books and noticed a book titled “The Program Management Office: Establishing, Managing And Growing the Value of a PMO” by Craig J. Letavec.

Seeing as how I have an interest in Project Management, Program Management and PMO‘s…and I’d never seen this book before so I thought I’d pick it up and read it.

Not a bad book at all.  There is good advice for people at all levels of PMO experience.

The book seems to be targeted at people/organizations who are trying to build a PMO. There are some chapters targeted at managing the PMO once it’s been created, but you’ll have to wait till the end of the book to find them.

As mentioned, the majority of the book covers the creation of a PMO and what topics need to be considered while setting up your program/project office.   When considering the creation of a PMO, the author states that you should first consider your initial PMO “Model”.  In other words, how will your PMO be organized and managed?  Will the PMO be the central office for all project management functions…or will it be a project management knowledge center for the organization?  The author provides three PMO “models”: Consulting, Strong and Blended. These models are basic PMO models, but are effective when trying to determine how the PMO will fit into the organization. The book provides pros/cons of each model, how the models would fit into organizations and what processes and tools are needed to make these models work.

In addition to the three PMO models, the author provides a basic overview of the PMO as Project Standard Bearer and Knowledge Management Center.  The Knowledge Management Center was most interesting to me since this is the area that I believe organizations and PMO’s fail.  Many people have studied project management processes and standardized these processes…project governance is a field that many people have a good grasp on.  Knowledge management in the world of projects, on the other hand, is still fairly immature with lots of interesting topics to explore.

The book is a good one…if you have any interest in PMO’s, I’d recommend picking it up.

The Strategic Project Leader

I just finished reading The Strategic Project Leader: Mastering Service-Based Project Leadership by Jack Ferraro….not a bad book.

In section two of his book, Mr. Ferraro writes:

In project management, leadership is desperately needed; leadership that is adaptable, perceptive, timely, meaningful, authentic, and unselfish.

This one sentence sums up the core of The Strategic Project Leader’s message: Project leaders, not project processes, are the future for project management. As the first section carefully lays out, the codification and standardization of project management knowledge has created a commoditized service that can be bought and sold like any other product. However, project managers can resist the force of commoditization by adding personal value to their organizations through leadership.

Ferraro defines a new role for the project manager seeking to be the spearhead of change – the service-based project leader. As the book points out, this role of ‘Project Leader’ is an area of untapped potential in project management. This kind of leadership requires a project manager to provide service not only to a sponsor but to all the project’s stakeholders. By truly serving the needs of organizations and individuals, project leaders find themselves doing meaningful work, a factor that is linked to personal growth and great job satisfaction. Due to the highly personal and individual nature of leadership, it cannot be codified and standardized into a ‘methodology.’

The first section of the book is devoted to this idea of leadership in project management and provides guidance as to how to step up into a leadership role. However, Ferraro also introduces several critical topics not usually found in project management books. He discusses the importance of establishing trust-based relationships with clients, and putting the needs of the client first, ideas that are central to high-level project leadership.

The second section of the book provides more concrete information in the form of a ˜leadership competency framework” that is comprised of five ˜core competencies”. This competency framework is presented in the form of a pyramid:

  • Project & Program Management Knowledge, Skill & Experience
  • Subject Matter Expertise
  • Trust-based Relationships
  • Consultative Leadership
  • Courage

While knowledge of project management processes is necessary as the base of this pyramid, project leaders must move beyond this to become true consultative leaders.

The third section helps the reader create practical self-development plans – a step-by-step guide to improving leadership skills. The final section, written by Roberta Hill, provides a detailed overview of a variety of assessment methods.

Smoothly written and easy to read, The Strategic Project Leader is an indispensable guide to anyone looking to be a leader among project managers.

NOTE: This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

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