Q & A with Pete Fisher, CIO, Lewis Fowler

| ,

In our recent webinar, “10 Signs You Need to Reinvent Your PMO” our guest speaker Pete Fisher, Vice President Solution Services & CIO at Lewis Fowler explored some red flags for PMO leaders and gave insight as to how to solve some of the biggest challenges. Pete’s multi-faceted career spans 30 years in IT, management consulting, sales and finance. In addition to Staples, he has held leadership positions for Coors Brewing Company, Lucent Technologies, Cap Gemini, Boston Market, Achieve Global and Comerica Bank.

Post originally appeared on Lewis Fowler blog. Written by Pete Fisher.

How is the overall health of your PMO? Tune in here to check out our 10 signs to see if it is time reinvent your PMO. Following the presentation, we had a lively Q & A discussion.  Below are the answers to some of the more intriguing questions.

Can you discuss what some of the key items are that drive PMO structure?  What structures have you felt work best to maintain PMO value?

It gets back to what kind of a PMO you want to be.  Think about why PMOs get created and what the drivers are.  For example, maybe the driver is to have a better view of the project work that is in flight and the health of the project portfolio.  Or, a leader could want to know what their resources are working on and how much of it is operational or project work.  Finally, maybe the driver is that a high profile project just failed miserably and the belief is that the company needs to go back to project management basics and apply more rigor.  Each of these different drivers implies a specific focus for the PMO and what the ensuing roles would be to achieve the objective.

How do you know how your team is being perceived?

  1. It starts with having the conversation.  Ask your business stakeholders for their honest and candid input.  If you do not know what is important to the customer and they do not know what you’re working on, misalignment will occur.
  2. Ask yourself what the key metrics are that the customer is focused on.  A Gartner survey found that CEOs primarily care about growth, cost management and profitability.  You need to communicate the value your PMO is providing in relation to these key business metrics.
  3. Choose the right communication channels. For example, near real time information access and dashboards or reports custom constructed based on the specific audience.  Make sure you are not over or under communicating.
  4. As a PMO leader, you need to work on your executive presence and build relationships with the key leaders in the organization and understand what they are focused on and where they are feeling pain.  You need to tailor your language and craft your message with this in mind.

In general, what are the best KPIs or metrics PMOs should focus on in relation to adding value?

  1. Project scoring (up front in demand management or project intake) with categories and weighting around business value and what your business stakeholders care about.
  2. Benefits realization tracking versus the original plan.
  3. What percentage of your work is focused on running the business versus innovating and growing the business.

Are PMOs better off reporting into Finance, IT or some other area?

If your PMO is more strategic such as an EPMO, then the COO or Chief Strategy Officer is a more likely place to report into.  Other more specialized PMOs such as in IT or Marketing make sense to report into that leader based on the specialized nature of those types of projects.  While not always the case, the risk in having a PMO report into Finance is that it can lead to an over emphasis on hitting project budgets at the expense of more strategic business objectives.

How do I convince my senior management to prioritize projects?

  1. It  comes down to understanding where the gaps are in your portfolio in relation to the strategy and suggesting which projects help to fill those gaps.
  2. It comes down to your resource capacity.  Per an Innotas survey, 60% of organizations report that they do not have enough resources to complete all of the project work that is expected of them.  You need to appeal to the leaders’ common sense with regards to resource limitations and the imperative to ensure that they are working on the most important things.
  3. Finally, notice if there are projects that are being put forward prematurely to be approved when they should be deferred until they are more clearly defined.

If you would like to do a deeper dive on this topic, be sure to view our recorded webinar.

We also love to hear from other experienced PMO team leaders on other signs your PMO needs reinventing.  Are there other indicators that need to be considered? Let us know in the comments below!