Many corporations rely on Project Management Offices (PMOs) to centralize project management activities. Just as organizations have to change some of their processes to accommodate web working, PMOs have to be at on the forefront of those changes to manage organizational projects to successful delivery.
Here are some tips if you are seeking to build a web worker friendly PMO to manage geographically dispersed employees, contractors and partners:
Democratize Project Management Data. The democratization of project data has been an ongoing theme in some of my recent project management posts; it becomes more important as project teams leave the confines of the cubicle farm. PMOs need to become more polished communicators of project status data (including schedules, risks, and client requirements) and target audiences at every level of the project from the “worker bee” all the way up to the executive stakeholder. The challenge is that the information has to be understandable by everyone — meaning that views of project data cannot always be shared just by using a Gantt chart.
Move Communications Outside the Email Inbox. 2010 should prove to be a pivotal year for online collaboration tools like Google Wave and enterprise-class social media tools like Yammer and Present.ly (which we’ve covered previously). While email is a traditional and often-used form of project communication it does no good as a repository for project documents. Even if you can’t get your team to embrace online collaboration tools, you at least need to take the small step of ensuring that your project documents are online in a centrally-accessible place.
Implement New Project Management Tools. Microsoft Project and spreadsheets are traditional project management tools but more suited to project teams roosted in the same cubicle farm. The web is the future for project management tools – LiquidPlanner, Zoho Projects, and Basecamp are all examples of web-based tools that are easy to use and help to foster collaboration.
Rethink Meetings. I’ll spare the usual attacks on meetings as being detrimental to productivity, and fast forward to suggesting that meetings will have to change in priority, format and technology. PMOs need to look at conference calls, web conferencing, and online chat for real-time meetings, plus the tools to archive those meetings for later reference.
For PMOs entering a new era of web working, the old staples need to give way to new tools, processes and working styles to ensure the success of the team and timely project delivery. Remember corporate culture, not technology, drives online collaboration and the PMO is in a position to ensure geographically-dispersed project teams have the framework, leadership and tools they need.
What are your tips for building a web worker friendly PMO? Share them below.