OUTSIDE THE BOX Forum: 12 Requirements of an Effective Hybrid Project Manager: The Project Support Office – Part 3
Part 1 defined the Hybrid Project, Hybrid Project Management, the Hybrid Project Manager and listed the 12 requirements of an effective Hybrid Project Manager.
Part 2 discussed the 12 requirements in detail. This article is the final article in the series and discusses how the Project Support Office (PSO) can support Hybrid Project Managers.
WHAT IS A PROJECT SUPPORT OFFICE (PSO)?
Naming it the PSO instead of the PMO sends a significant message. The PMO is often characterized as a monitoring and standards compliance function. It may have support roles but they take a second seat to the monitoring and compliance roles. The PSO on the other hand sends the message that it is first a support unit. The organization may also have a PMO but include within it a PSO to support the needs of the Hybrid Project Manager (HPM).
A ROBUST HYBRID PMLC MODEL
Figure 1 is a robust and high-level depiction of the Hybrid Project Management Life Cycle (PMLC) Framework. These three phases apply regardless of the model or approach you might envision for managing your project. This framework is more useful than Agile or Extreme Models in those situations where very little is known about the solution or the specifics of the goal.
Figure 1: A Robust Hybrid Project Management Model
The framework will lead you through the uncharted waters of any unique project. There will be many situations where the commercially available models or those in use in your organization do not fit the project situation for any number of reasons. The Hybrid PMLC Framework has been designed for just those situations. Keep in mind that solution discovery is still the focus of these Hybrid Models. Each iteration in a Hybrid Model must address not only task completion for newly defined functions and features, but also further solution definition through function and feature discovery.
I want you to have these three phases in mind as I describe what the PSO needs to provide as support to the HPM as projects are defined, planned and executed.
The PSO has a significant role to play across all three Phases in response to the needs of the HPM community. An HPM wants to manage their projects using a “path unencumbered by fixed processes” and under their complete control. They avoid nonvalue-added work and by nature are “lean practitioners”” whether they know it or not. However, without some structured guidance their “lean practices” might unknowingly put them and their business unit in harm’s way. Their project management processes are not fixed but are adapted by them to the nature of the project at hand. Convention and established practices are of little importance. What is important is to complete their project to the satisfaction of the project sponsor, usually their direct management. Ideally their project management expects the PSO to support their 12 general parameters. Here is how the 12 general parameters are distributed across the three Phases of the Hybrid Project management Framework and what the support expectations should include.
Across all Phases
A Portfolio of Intuitive Tools, Templates and Processes
This portfolio is one of the Unique Value Propositions (UVP) included in the Hybrid Project Management Framework and the PSO is its steward. It should anticipate the needs of the HPM and inventory a broad selection to meet those needs. Part of its responsibility will be to encourage submissions by the HPM community for evaluation and inclusion in the portfolio.
Available Coaches, Consultants and Mentors as Required and When Requested
The HPM is not a professional or credentialed project manager. Most of their project management skills are the result of on the job experiences. So when an unusual situation arises they have to reach out to find a solution and that means having that resource available to them and known. The PSO needs to provide access to that information. That could simply be an online directory that lists skills and competencies, who has that and how to contact them for help.
A Supportive PSO not a Compliance Monitoring PMO
The PSO is a reactive service not a proactive management service. The HPM goes to them when they need them not when the PSO needs something from them. The PSO puts out a menu of support and waits for needs to arise.
A Collaborative Engagement with Subject Matter Experts
The PSO support services must take the HPM from whatever level of expertise they might possess and help them solve their problems.
A Partnership with the Business Analyst
The Business Analyst assigned to the HPM’s business unit will be a frequent partner with the HPM and be the first professional the HPM reaches out to for help.
Meaningful Stakeholder Involvement
The first opportunity to establish meaningful client involvement in the project is during the IDEATION Phase where the high-level project definition is developed. That begins with the Brainstorming Session. The PSO can facilitate that session and begin the process of building a collaborative relationship between the client and the developer teams.
Minimal Nonvalue-Added Work and Waste Avoidance
The HPM is only interested in completing his project to the satisfaction of his manager, who may be reporting beyond the requests of the sponsor would be an example of nonvalue-added work. The PSO might offer some useful reports for the sponsor such as a Primitive Earned Value Analysis that reports tasks planned versus tasks completed.
A Lean Systems Perspective
The PSO might suggest systems for use by the HPM but must keep them lean if they expect the HPM to use them.
Flexibility and Adaptability of Tools, Templates and Processes to Meet Project Needs
Any tool, template or process contributed by the PSO must have flexible and adaptive properties to facilitate the HPM use of them.
An Operational Understanding of Traditional, Agile and Extreme Project Management Processes
Lean versions of any PMLC model promoted by the PSO must be available to the HPM. Short papers or one day workshops might help in that regard.
Minimal Documentation and Reporting
The HPM is only interested in those tasks that directly relate to achieving the project objectives. So the PSO needs to offer tools, templates and processes that directly serve that end.
Risk Assessment and Mitigation Strategies
The HPM may have very limited skills and experiences with risk management and probably needs the PSO to provide some leadership on risk management. The more complex the project the more likely that risk will be present and must be managed. The simpler the risk management process the more likely the HPM will include it in their project plan. They are not likely to appoint one of their team members as risk manager. The PSO should consider appointing one of their staff to this position.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
The data would lead one to the conclusion that the HPM is the dominant player in the project management community. Yet the body of project management knowledge assumes that standard PMLC models are in common use. Mark Mulally [Mark Mulally, All is not the same in the World of Project Management, ProjectManagement.com, 3/27/17] would disagree. His research concluded that less than 2% of organizations are currently at a (CMMI) Maturity Level 3 or higher, where there is a consistent process that is consistently adhered to. Assuming his estimate is reasonable the project management community needs to establish the processes and practices that support the HPM. This article is a start to meeting those needs.