On August 30th, Centric Chicago’s Renee Giacalone hosted a free webinar that explored why thinking about your Project Management Office as a brand is important. She shared best practices for creating a PMO brand that is memorable, delivers value and sets your organization apart from others.
Thank you Ted! I have to start by giving credit to the person who inspired this presentation, Yvon Milano, former PMO Executive and client at Hub International. She’s now at Kellogg on her way to building yet another stellar PMO. Some of you may know she and I gave this presentation at CampIT back in June. I’ve taken the core concepts and expanded it in couple of areas. But we’re going to cover why branding your PMO is so important; how to define your brand, select and develop the right talent to fulfill your PMO’s brand promise, how to deliver and promote the PMO’s value story to drive permanent and steady demand for your services.
So let’s get started. Brand. We all know many iconic brands like the ones shown here but how is a brand formed. It’s not just declared. Sure logos, website and color palettes are common manifestations of a brand. But let’s look at a definition. The key words: thinks they know, factual and emotional. It’s a feeling, an impression that is perceived.
So let’s relate this to the Program Management Office or PMOs. Per a recent ESI study, 72% of respondents say.. Yikes, guess what the number one reason was that executives challenged a PMO. Once again, the key word is perception. Branding the PMO for success is not only need to grow and create demand but clearly to survive as well.
Even Gartner reminds us the PMO leaders must Market their contributions in order to demonstrate value. The very thing that Executives are looking for evidence of.
So, let’s talk about defining and communicating your PMO’s brand standards governing how team members behave is step one.
The PMO should declare some brand expectations, like a mission, vision or value statements. These are examples of how our client, Hub International described their goals and expectations. The vision statement focuses on strategic alignment, The Vision statements talk about a simple project management methodology and the Value statements specifically say the PMO will promote the accomplishments. In addition, it’s important for team members to act and think in alignment with these brand standards. It’s the collective behavior of all team members that define the PMO’s perceived reputation or brand.
So, let’s talk about how your PMO is perceived.
Sometimes its helpful to point out what not to do. It’s hard to change people’s mind so what elements of a PMO that should be avoided. Don’t become the checklist, taskmaster, paper pushers, everything green or the worse brand, the dreaded, PMO’s slow things down.
Here some growth inspiring attributes that a PMO should aspire to achieve.
Before engage in the next section are there questions. So, you need to set expectations through tools like mission statements, rules of engagement etc. But that’s not enough. How your team behaves will decide what kind of brand your PMO will have. PMO leaders who hyper focus on certification and technical PM skills risk winning the battle but losing the war. Assembling a team of employees and vendors with sophisticated skills sets will allow you to create a “borderless” team who behave in alignment with your expectations.
What do I mean by borderless team. One that Yvon Milano was famous for at Hub was leverage a diverse combination of contractors, 3rd party partners and employees. Her expectation of any team was that they identify themselves as working for the PMO, no Accenture war rooms or branded powerpoint decks. Your receive Hub technology, you use a standard PMO email signature. The goal was for clients to say, I wouldn’t have guessed they didn’t work here. In order to be picked for her team, you needed an attitude about work together regardless of whose name was on your paycheck; of treat everyone like a client, striving to solve problems together, and never finger point. As a vendor partner, our goals was to hear out client say, wow, they care more about my business than some of my employees do. That’s an actual quote. It was all on the team member to adapt to the culture and way of behaving. Yvon met people half way was inclusive in every way she could. Inviting all members of the team to leadership meetings, including celebrations (some times having to fight with executives to do so). She was famous for sharing recognition with all members of the team regardless of vendor or employee status. That behavioral expectations create a code of conduct that pervades the PMO still today.
One great example of how she instilled the PMO brand with her team was in the Elevator Speech exercise.
So as I mentioned each team members skills and capabilities collective creates a reputation or brand. Let’s talk about other skills needs to create and in-demand PMO brand. First, you tell me what Project Manager skills you think are most important.
According to a study done last year by PM Solutions Research, Leadership Skills emerge as the highest contributing success factor. Moreover, the skills exhibited by PMs in high-performing PMOs were just as you pointed out, soft skills or leadership skills like….
The finding that was most interesting is this: communication and listening are the most important skills. Not detailed project planning.
To build a stellar PMO, I argue that you have to have Project Leaders not just Project Managers. To navigate the every complex business environment, you need Project Leaders who possess the right balance of skills.
Hard Skills… Soft skill…these are to see when interviewing or selecting talent. I like to look at the difference this way…PMs ask good questions. PLs don’t stop asking questions until the “ah-ha” moment arrives. PMs follow the plan, the script. Leaders go off script and pursue solution the business didn’t know were possible.
Again, I point to Yvon’s talent selection techniques. Hard skills were good, great communication and executive presence was the knock out requirement.
Other examples of the Project Leadership looks like. Again, these are hard to see when selecting talent but easy to see when coaching talent.
Finally, again the PMO brand is defined by the collective behavior of its individual. So as an individual, think about your personal and the PMO’s brand in these terms: Unbranded – everyone starts here. Recognized – you are the best kept secret. Your starting to built a track record. Positioned – the word is finally getting out. Your audience appreciates your ideas and your expertise and regularly turns to you for advice and help. Valued - your clients tell you that they appreciate what you do. Your loyal audience has an emotional attachment to you. Trusted – your value is so widely known and appreciated that your clients not market you for you. They tell others that they’d be crazy not to work with you.
Now, you’ve defined your brand, you’ve define how you expectation your team to behave, you’ve selected talented Project Leaders who can naturally deliver on the brand promise. The last two pieces of the puzzle…you’ve got delivery results and tell everyone about it.
You need have the building blocks to manage portfolios, programs and projects. You need to have….
As I mentioned earlier, Business Value more than % on-time or budget is what executive are looking for.
The usual, internally focused metrics are fine and necessary for internal management but the project benefit realization will get attention and stave off those “questioning” executives. Rather than investing time in building and automating PMO focus dashboards, get busy building a model to identify, measure and realize and sustain benefits.
Final piece of the puzzle, tell the world of your accomplishments.
Tips to do that: collect facts, statistics about successes, learnings, business benefits Tell stories about projects and the impact on internal and external customers (WIIFM) Educate your clients on project management best practices, how else with the learn what RAID stands for Ask for business, don’t be shy about simply saying, help me help you.
Thank you for joining us today, I hope you were inspired in some way. If you’d like to connect with me further my contact info is here along with Centric Consulting’s website. We will post a copy of this presentation and the recording on our website shortly.
What’s a Brand Anyway?
“Put simply, your “brand” is
what your prospect thinks
of when he or she hears
your brand name. It’s
everything the public thinks
it knows about your brand
—both factual, and
emotional. Your brand
exists only in someone’s
Executives Continue to Challenge PMOs
Number one reason PMO’s were questioned?
ESI, The Global State of the PMO, 2015
“In this year’s survey, 72 percent of
respondents claimed the PMO continues to
be called into question mostly by senior
Branding: Why Does it Matter?
A key factor for success is how the PMO is positioned
within the organization.
“PMO leaders that ignore the importance of
proactively marketing PMO successes and
achievements forgo the opportunity to
demonstrate PMO impact and value.”
Gartner, March 2016
Defining the Brand
Defining and clearly communicating brand and behavioral
standards for your team members is step one in creating a
Defining the Brand
To facilitate the project management process
and improve quality, always in alignment with
the enterprise strategic objectives, values and
vision. – PMO Mission Statement
A highly effective PMO
A simple project management methodology that the business understands
A framework that shows how everything the PMO does is aligned with enterprise
strategic objectives – PMO Vision Statement
Generate demand by establishing a consistent record of success
Show value by publishing project benefits
Enable better decision making through effective communications
– PMO Value Statement
Pick the Right Team Members
Technical skills can be learned. Select and develop a highly
skilled, “borderless team” who behave in alignment with the
The “Borderless” Team
All members of the team, regardless of paycheck, should behave the same way.
•Doesn’t matter whose name is on your paycheck
•“I thought they worked for the company.”
•Treat all colleagues like clients
•Work within the culture to get things done
•“They care more about my business than some of my
•Communications and meetings
•“Once again, our borderless team comes through.”
I AM PMO
My name is…
I work for our Program Management Office….
I am responsible for…
Make it memorable
Put it in perspective for the listener
Know your facts
Elevator Speech….Tell the PMO Story
Every member of the team should be comfortable describing
their contributions to the brand.
High-Performing Project Managers
The top skills exhibited by
project managers in high-
were: integrity, honesty,
establishing trust and
listening the most important
project manager skill.
PM Solutions Research, 2015 Benchmark
Leadership skills are more important than technical skills.
Strike the Right Balance
• Detailed planning & estimation
• Tight issues/risk management
• Clear ownership & accountability
• Engage key stakeholders
• Rigor and discipline in execution
• Fostering an open culture
• Engaging people in the right way
• Telling the truth (don’t fake it)
• Sharing knowledge (don’t hoard it)
• Asking for help (don’t go it alone)
Project Leaders have the right balance of skills.
Project Managers ask good
Project Leaders keep asking
questions until the “ah-ha
What does Project Leadership look like?
A Project Leader takes ownership
• A Project Leader doesn’t just report and track what is happening, but owns outcomes.
A Project Leader is involved
• A Project Leader engages the team and stakeholders to build a common sense of purpose.
• A Project Leader reaches out to team members, getting involved in decision making and issue resolution.
A Project Leader sees the broader picture
• A Project Leader looks beyond the project’s borders to understand how the project fits the business
• A Project Leader knows what else needs to be done to achieve success and makes it happen.
A Project Leader is an advisor to the project sponsors and executives
• A Project Leader works with project sponsors to connect the project to the business environment outside of
the project’s borders.
• A Project Leader constantly evaluates the project’s situation.
Expand your performance evaluation criteria.
Thought Leadership Branding: Where Do You Stand? by Jim Pennypacker on July 30, 2009 in Thought Leadership Marketing
Project leadership is the key differentiator.
Deliver and Tell
If you deliver, they will come: delivery excellence is the best
form of marketing, but you have to tell someone.
Demand Planning & Governance
Methodology & Standards
Communications & Marketing
Project Financial Management
Bureaucracy-free: Project Intake, Evaluation,
Decision Making, Escalation
Right-sized: Delivery Framework, Tools, Templates,
Audience-oriented: Executive, Stakeholder and
Intra/Inter portfolio: Dependencies, Constraints,
Issues, Risks, Capacity, Change
Inspect what you expect: Audits, Peer Reviews,
More than on-time/on-budget: Cost Benefit
Analysis, ROI, Forecasting and Report
The functional building blocks to deliver more than on-time and on-budget
Identify Benefits: determine
project/program level business
Benefit Realization Measurement:
create measurement plan to
demonstrate benefit realization
Execute Benefit Realization Plan:
implement data collection and
Sustain Benefits: ensure that
whatever the project or program
produces continues to create value
The ultimate measure of success for the PMO
• % On-Time
• % On-Budget
• Client Satisfaction
• Accumulated Benefits
Portfolio Performance Metrics
• Hard $: Sustained expense/revenue
• Soft $: Sustained efficiency/productivity
Project Benefit Metrics
• % Requirements Delivered
• Project Sponsor Satisfaction
Constantly communicate business value and ask for advocacy
Establish your brand standards
Mission, Vision and Behavior Standards
Share it, expect it, coach it
Pick your team with care
Hire project leaders
Value hard & soft skills
Treat everyone like a client
Deliver on-time, on-budget, on-benefits
Tell the PMO’s value story regularly
Ask for more business
Be the CMO of the PMO
Presenters Name: Renee A. Giacalone
To learn more about Centric Consulting Solutions: www.CentricConsulting.com