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Almost There 03/11/2009

Posted by TBoehm30 in PMO.
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The PMO is still not out yet, but at least now I know the issues (I think. (I hope.)).

The IT director has talked to the CFO to find out that it is still a power struggle. The PMO (Project Management Office) cannot be given too much power because decisions will still be made at the highest levels. His concerns are that people will think that all decisions, not just the ERP project, are being made by the new PMO.

OK, we can easily word the announcement (read previous posts) so that it is obvious that this group is responsible for 1 project. Yes one project only. They are not taking over the company. They won’t decide who to layoff, or who to promote. They won’t change the manufacturing schedules. They are being created as a cross-functional team to oversee the very large and complicated implementation of the ERP system.

It turns out that the CFO has been working pretty hard lately. He actually, really, hasn’t had much time to think about our needs (really). This is a pretty good thing for him to realize because when the project starts going he knows that he won’t be, nor does he want to be, the guy making all of the decisions. The PMO will be making plenty of process decisions to successfully implement the ERP. They need to be empowered to do that and only that. Our newest announcement will grab power for that singular purpose.

The other issue is the board of directors meetings. He is going to talk to the leaders of the company separately about the new PMO. That is good news. That means that the higher ups will already be aware of what is about to happen and can support us when needed. He wants his ‘official’ announcement to go out after he has had a chance to talk to the board. OK – good issue, didn’t know that.

We are also going to include text in the announcement that specifically states that the PMO has been setup for this one ERP project. If this one project goes well, if the structure of the PMO enhances the value of the implementation, then they may continue it. The future of the PMO will rely on their own success.

The PMO announcement still hasn’t gone out. The CFO will be meeting with the board some time next week, so we are still in a waiting mode. At least now I don’t have to be thinking about strategies for overcoming our very first obstacle. I’ll give it one more week before I get frustrated again.

That is fine with me because I know that it’s a global world out there and Technology makes it happen.

PMO Announcement Still Not Sent 03/04/2009

Posted by TBoehm30 in PMO.
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My background is mostly tech. I have a tendency to solve problems quickly and efficiently. I get frustrated when I have to wait on people. This is particularly annoying since I know that the executives say they are behind this project and need it to succeed.

A Little Background: I have setup a Project Management Office (PMO) at a company that is about to implement a new ERP system. The C-Level executives wanted the PMO to guide the project. Once I got the group together and went over our mission, vision, goals, charter, etc. we decided to encourage an announcement on the formation of the PMO from the executives (who are not formally on the committee, but are the project sponsors).

As a group we wrote up a short announcement that was 4 paragraphs taking up about 3/4 of a page. The CFO said that it was too long and implied too much power to the PMO. The IT director and I re-wrote the announcement to make it short, about 5 sentences, and watered down the decision making powers. We wrote that the committee would work with the executives to get this important project done.

The problem: It has been a couple of weeks, but the announcement still hasn’t been sent out. How do I remind a CFO, that the number one reason that ERP projects fail is a lack of executive support?

I gave the new announcement text to him on Monday of last week. It took a week to find out that he didn’t like it. I stopped by his office every hour, to talk to him about it, until he promised to meet with me the next day. That would have been Tuesday, but his door was shut all day.

Our PMO meetings are held on Tuesdays so I found out that he talked to the IT Director, to have him handle this announcement. Unfortunately for the CFO, the IT Director has the same questions as I do: What is wrong with the first 2 versions, and how can we fix it?

Another week is going by and we have no chance for this announcement until next week. My frustration is starting to display itself, and I have to work to keep it in check. I don’t want to treat people like children and tell them to do what they know needs to be done.

In the meantime, I’ve tried to Google information on announcing a PMO. There isn’t much there. You can “Socialize” the idea, you can find actual announcements, even a few books talk briefly about the importance of announcing the PMO. But, there are no good “Here’s how to do it” articles. If you found this Blog looking for How To Do It, then I have this to say: “Good Luck!”.

While I’m waiting, I can comfort myself with the thought that It’s a global world out there and Technology makes it happen.

Power Struggles 02/27/2009

Posted by TBoehm30 in ERP, PMO.
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The PMO exists and they are excited about the new role they will play in this large project. The ERP system will help define the future of the company and they know it. The executives are entirely behind the ERP project, knowing how important it is, and they helped define the PMO. Now it is time to announce to the company that the PMO exists, what it’s goals are, and ask for assistance from everybody in this new project.

The first week was spent re-working the announcement to better fit the desires of management. It was too long, so we took out quite a bit. We had to remove some text that may have prevented some of the politics that I know will follow. We watered down the responsibilities just a bit so as not to conflict with the responsibilities of the executives. Now the announcement is simple and to the point. But it still hasn’t been sent out. The second week was spent waiting for executives to get the announcement out.

I can appreciate the schedules of executives, they are obviously full. They’ve got a really bad economy to deal with and board meetings are looming. However, business does go on.

I think that the problem is that the PMO will be making decisions on process that are currently the responsibility of executives. I think that they worry the PMO looks like it is taking over the business. It may look like they get to make the new decisions that will drive the company.

OK, I can see that issue. However, the executives are not going to want to make the decisions necessary for process engineering in a large ERP project. Not only will they have no desire, but it doesn’t sound like they have the time. That is why we created a PMO.

My job next week will be to explain the purpose of the PMO and convince executives that it is time to announce it. We have fully documented the PMO charter, its goals and mission, as well as the functions and services it will perform. This documentation should be enough to show the executives that the PMO will not detract from their power. The PMO will work WITH them to make sure these decisions are done right.

An ERP project is huge, it covers multiple business units, multiple functionalities, and several departments. This is not something you want run by a single person, especially one who is already quite busy. A committee of people containing representatives from numerous affected stakehoulders is the way to go. They will be in a position to monitor what is going on as well as having the knowledge to make the right decisions. We have an official reporting plan to keep the executives in the loop.

I know that helping a company do the right thing means convincing people to help. Just convincing them idealogically is not enough; you then have to ask for their action. Even with executives you have to follow up with them to make sure that actions are performed. It means continually convincing them to follow-up on their decisions. For a technical person, this seems like just politics. However, it is very important to get the politics right, or it will kill the project.

For you executives out there who are sitting on their action commitments: It’s a global world out there and technology makes it happen.

PMO Announcement continued 02/21/2009

Posted by TBoehm30 in ERP.
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The original announcement was 3 paragraphs. It was pretty simple, but detailed in the explanations of what we are doing. The PMO group decided to add a paragraph explaining what ERP is all about. After considerable word-smithing, I sent it on to the CFO.

I suggested he send it from the CEO and himself to the leaders of the company so they could pass it on to their people. Nope – it’s too long.

Don’t the executives read anymore? Are they so busy that the details can’t make it into their head? I would think that leaders want to know what is going on in their company. If someone spent the time writing me an email explaining what is happening, I would want to read it.

No, we better not take that chance. We can only let the leaders know what is absolutely necessary for them to have. If that is the culture of the company, then I better follow their lead. I can’t change things overnight.

So, here I am changing 4 paragraphs (about 3/4 of a page) into 5-6 sentences. I have to make it simple enough to assure that it is read in full.

My objectives haven’t changed (Read previous entry). I still need to prevent the politics from people left out of the group; I also need to create the authority to make the decisions for the new ERP project. Only now I’ve got 5-6 sentences to do it. Wish me luck.

PMO Announcement 02/18/2009

Posted by TBoehm30 in ERP, PMO.
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Who knew that announcing a PMO would be so difficult?

After our first PMO meeting (Project Management Office), I knew that we needed to have an official announcement. The PMO was only known by those people already in it, but they would have to make decisions for the company. They needed to be officially announced so that they would have the authority to make those difficult decisions. I had to work with the high level executives to get the announcement out.

Of course, he asked me to make a draft first so he could easily just send it out. I wanted to just write something along the lines of ‘Congrats – we’re forming a PMO.’ But alas, that was not to be the case. There were other messages that needed to be included so as to reduce the political fallout.

The biggest issue was that there were people who were conspicuously left out of the group. It’s not that these people were not good enough; it’s just that the PMO needs to be a small group of people that can work well together. You need representatives from all affected parties, but only one person can represent that faction.

Some people are politically not going to be allowed to participate. They may have upset someone high up, or their reputation has been spoiled for someone up the ladder. They may not work well with someone who must be in the group. Someone may not have confidence in their abilities, even though they have shown great skills up until this point. For whatever reason, they were going to be disappointed in not being included. I needed to alleviate that pressure with something in the announcement.

I settled on a ‘Thank-you’ to the members of the software selection committee. They had done a lot of work so far, and would continue to be important in the process. See? They are still important. I have no idea who was not included on that committee; I guess those people are just out of luck.

Will this announcement work? Will it suggest how great it is that we are on this path toward a new ERP system? Will it give the right amount of authority to its members? Will it totally destroy the people who are not in it, but wanted to be? I guess we’ll just have to wait to find out.

Luckily, I am part of a great team. I have sent off my first draft to be reviewed before sending it back to the executives. Hopefully they can catch any problems before actually sending it out. This is just the first step on a long journey toward the new ERP system that I will help to get implemented.

Remember, it’s a global world out there, and technology makes it happen.