The views expressed in this article are strictly those of Max Wideman.
The contents of the book under review are the copyright property of the authors.
US spelling generally adopted throughout. Published here August 2017

Introduction | Book Structure | What We Liked
Downside | Concluding Thought

What We Liked

After justifying the concept of a PMO as described, the real meat of the book starts with Chapter 5 — Introduction to the Plan where, right off the bat, authors Peter Taylor and Ray Mead state categorically:[11]

"Delivering a PMO is a project. So, as a project, it should have clear deliverables, well-defined stakeholders and sufficient allocation of resources. Moreover, it should be a model project, approached with the same degree of rigor and professionalism that will be expected from all the projects in its future care. It should be the shining light, the standard by which all other projects are measured and the platform for many other future project successes."

That's a pretty tall order, but highly desirable.

After listing and describing the primary steps for a successful PMO delivery, the authors offer for the occasion their own copyright framework, PAD3T™, as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: The Authors' working framework as applied to establishing a PMO[12]
[click to enlarge]

This diagram shows a life cycle of five phases encompassing eleven stages as denoted by the two outer rings. The authors state that this design is the product of their own experience, but that not all phases or stages may be necessary, depending on the needs of the organization in question.[13] The authors then describe each of the phases and their respective stages in great detail down to the work package level.[14] All of this is in language that should appeal to an upper management level.

This takes us through to Chapter 10: Phase 5 — Transfer PMO. In the intervening chapters, the authors provide typical advice for instituting projects of this kind, covering every step of the way. These recommendations will be of particular help to those using the book as a recipe for establishing a PMO for the first time. Interestingly, in this journey we encountered some topics that we were not expecting to find in this book. For example:

  • "Stakeholders should be made aware that, as each stage is planned and executed, planning accuracy ranges should narrow to Definitive Estimates (-5% to +10%) for each work package."[15]
  • "It is generally accepted that competency is a combination of Knowledge, Skills and Attitudes (KSAs)".[16] And "Competency assessment has long demonstrated value to organizations in areas such as recruitment and selection, performance management, employee development, succession planning and organizational change."[17]
  • Tips for engaging and interviewing senior directors and executives, followed by a 5-point list of generic criteria as to the suitability of an executive for interview.[18]
  • The MoSCoW technique for quickly classifying the relative importance of requirements for the outcome of a project.[19]
  • Need for capacity analysis where "more and more is 'pushed into the project sausage machine'. An implied capability planning assumption of infinite capacity that is never a reality."[20]
  • Descriptions of four types of PMO: Supporting; Controlling; Directive; and Blended.[21]
  • A list of ten essential content headings of a typical PMO Charter, covering Overview & Objectives, and the PMO Scope.
  • Tips on Change Management; Marketing Plan; Training; and Deploying a Portfolio Management component.[22]

Perhaps the most remarkable finding is a five-page table in which the Functional Area Maturity expectations of 18 PMO Functional Areas are described on each of five progressive stages of maturity. This table would provide a valuable tool for assessing the overall progress of a PMO towards top quality service and value to its sponsoring organization.

The book concludes with ten Lessons Learned (by the authors) — well, nine actually, the tenth being to learn from the previous nine!

Book Structure  Book Structure

11. Ibid, p17
12. Ibid, p19
13. Ibid.
14. Ibid, p27
15. Ibid, pp27-28
16. Ibid, p33
17. Ibid, p35
18. Ibid, pp40-41
19. Ibid, p43. MoSCoW stands for 'Must have; Should have; Could have; and Would like.'
20. Ibid p45
21. Ibid, p54-56
22. Ibid, pp73, 75, 77, and 78
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