Things Your PMO is Doing Wrong

Authors: Michael Hatfield
Publisher: PMI

Michael Hatfield has written an easy to read, easy to digest book outlining the problem areas when implementing a PMO and ultimately what makes PMOs fail. It’s the sheer number of unsuccessful PMOs that have given PMOs a bit of a bad reputation, being known more for red-tape than for adding value and facilitating decision making. Michael has written a book which will ultimately help individuals avoid the common traps and pitfalls. For that, I say thank you.

The book is divided into three sections – Tactics that don’t work, Tactics that work, and Hazards along the way.

Tactics that don’t work could be a book on it’s own.  (though it would extremely short, more like a short story than a novel). The elements that Michael outlined were insightful and relevant – and tactics that I have used before, unsuccessfully. Though not rocket-science, more like organised common sense, I believe this section would be of great value to an individual setting up a PMO in the early stages of their career.

The second section, tactics that work was very focused on Earned Value Analysis. Where the first section was easy to read and follow – this section became very technical with formulas and models.  It seemed to be intended for a more mature PMO professional, one well versed in the tried and tested techniques – whereas the first section seemed to be intended for the novice who was just finding their feet. I also felt that surely, there should be other techniques that work other than EVMS – what about risk/issue information?  What about benefits?  There are other types of information PMOs need to collate and track to enable effective decision making – not just budgets.

The final section took us back to the tone of the first section – an applicable and understandable list of hazards that could take you off track.  Again, common sense in origin – but it is often the common sense items that get lost along the way when PMOs are trying to prove their value by being overly clever or complicated when simple, transparent processes and information is all that is required.

Did Michael Hatfield crack the nut on the things PMO’s do that are wrong? Partly. His reminder that it’s the people you need to convince – and all the subtleties that go along with stakeholder management is an excellent one – and one that gets dropped along the way.  Project management professionals cannot divorce the two sides of project management – the project output and taking people along the way to prepare them for the output. The same is true when implementing and continuously improving a PMO. The only thing that was missing for me was more of a full picture of the PMO – but maybe he’ll write another.

Reviewed by guest contributor Sarah Carroll – July 2010
Open Positions

Share your Project Management Book Recommendations

Interested in project management books?
Would you like the opportunity to read and review a project management book for the Arras People newsletter?
Contact us to find out more information