PMOSIG Program Management Office Handbook

Authors: Craig Letavec, Dennis Bolles
Publisher: PMI

When I first got this book to review, I was quite excited, seeing the PMI PMOSIG name attached to the book I was expecting something like the OGC P3O manual crossed with the PMI PMBoK. However when I got it and started to read, I was sorely disappointed, as it wasn’t going to be the next P3O manual to tell me how I should be running my PMO, giving me step by step instructions on how to deliver a world class PMO. The key bit was in the strap line `Strategic and Tactical Insights for Improving Results’. Instead what I got was 20 chapters (although only 19 chapters are listed there is a `bonus’ chapter in the epilogue) of white papers, written by PMO experts from across the world, put together to try to provide a view across the entire PMO spectrum. This is a book which assumes that you are already in a PMO, and that you want to improve the value of the PMO within the company.
The first thing the book does is explain that there is no consistent definition of a PMO, not in what that PMO will do, or indeed what the P in the PMO actually stands for, whereas you may find this frustrating, it actually allows the chapters in the book to hang together, as they can cover the different types of PMO out there, so you should find a chapter which is relevant to the type of PMO you are (or are aspiring to be).

This is definitely a book which you need to dip in and out of, rather than read from cover to cover. For a start each chapter is fairly thought intensive, none more so than the first chapter, which tries to cover the full remit of a PMO, in detail in only 16 pages, which is the book equivalent of trying to put a day’s presentation into an elevator pitch.
The book has a mixture of case studies, using real world examples, and PMO theories, so not only do you get intellectually challenged to see how the theories can be put into place in your PMO, but also you can see what has worked will in other PMOs.

Personally the chapters that worked best for me were the ones where they took a single theme and took the time to explain how this works in practice, leading me through step by step, so I could then apply that back in my PMO. I found that some of other of chapters were far too condensed, and could have done with having 2-3 times the length to be able to properly articulate their points they were trying to out across. This is not so say that they were not valuable in their insights rather that I would have liked to hear their thoughts articulated in more detail.
Despite starting the book having said that there isn’t one type of PMO (which was born out in the rest of the book, with Project Office, Programme Office, Portfolio Office, Strategic PMO, Enterprise PMO all being used at some points), there were some themes that run across all of the chapters, the main one of these being the need to have appropriate sponsorship of the PMO, with the index having a number of references for stakeholder, sponsors & sponsorship, executive support.

Overall I found this book had a slightly scattergun approach to PMO, trying to be all things to all people, which has it upsides in there is something for everyone. However I would have preferred the PMI to provide a more structured book, providing an alternative to the P3O manual to help PMOs setup in the first place, or at least to take a consistent next step in their evolution. I will obviously have to wait until the PMOSIG can define what PMO actually stands for first. When they do produce that book then count me one of the first to get a copy.

April 2011 – Reviewed by Stuart Dixon, PMOSIG(UK) committee member on behalf of Arras People

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