Pitfalls when upgrading an existing PMO

Once of the temptations when taking over a new organization is to apply the lessons of the past.  I characterize it as a temptation, because simply taking what worked before as the template for the future sure saves a lot of thought and planning.   But does it work?

Applying the SAP global PMO template to Mead Johnson would have meant implementing an extensive training regimen, installing a new PMIS, and building out a new set of PM processes and methodologies.  While I would have had a great game plan to execute that approach,  MJN doesn’t need to improve many of the capabilities that this plan would have provided or augmented. 

For example, as the sole source of nutrition for infants, Mead Johnson’s products are regulated by the FDA.  MJN has extensive SDLC and other process documentation already in place.  We also have a perfectly fine project management framework that we can leverage from our pre-IPO parent (and majority stakeholder) Bristol-Myers Squibb.  What would be the value in pushing a new methodology into a company that already had a perfectly serviceable set of artifacts? 

Very little.  In fact, pushing something new would have ruined my credibility.  We already have a strong culture of documentation and compliance here, which is the most cherished outcomeof a methodology initiative.   Change for change’s sake is not a winning approach to such a culture.

Surviving PMO Success — Establish an innovation model

During my keynote on “Lessons from a Mature PMO on Sustaining Success”, I spent a considerable amount of time discussing one of the pitfalls of success: becoming satisfied with what was already in place. For example, some global PMO services stopped evolving and improving. Our regions felt like they had to build their own improvements — even worse, we didn’t have a mechanism for leveraging these innovations.

Luckily, we did a some working models that we were able to formalize. Below is a graphic — with a link to a PDF — that outlines the basic concept and an example (WBS templates).


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