Book writing week 6

Over half way there

Surprisingly it is still going well with the book this week. The number of services to write has come down from 300+ through to around 260. That means that I have am about half way through all of the services that I have to write. I do suspect that at some point that list may come up again as I work through the remainder and find items that are missing.

Thanks

Thanks to those people who contacted me after last week’s blog post with suggestions as to how I could improve the categorisation of the services, without duplicating them. It is great to know that a) people are reading this and b) they are doing this critically with a view of making this PMO Services and Capabilities book the success it should be.

PMO-Services Book

Advice

For too long we have had advice available which gives an overview about the promised land where everything works well in the world of PMO and everyone loves you. However, in my experience having talked to lots of different PMO people over the years, what is really required is some detail into how do you do that? I think this is down to the analytical nature of the PMO person. They are naturally curious and want to get to the bottom of things. I am hoping that this book will satisfy the curious and the people reading it will be able to get down into the detail of how to do the role, and why.

Application

For some people, it won’t go far enough. Why? Because any book can’t know the detail of your organisation and the culture and politics within it. It doesn’t understand the people who will be asked to deliver these services. This is where the sections within the book on how to apply this come in. Not only will you get a list of services, but you will get some guidance on how you can apply this to your organisation.

Book writing week five

The easy stuff is done

PMO-Services BookI am maintaining good progress towards the goal of documenting what all of the services are likely to be. I feel good in that quite a few of the domains are done, so that looks positive in the items delivered column. This week I have written 100 services of the 300+ services we started with. I did manage to finish the group I started last week plus another one.

Duplicates

On the way I have found a whole lot of duplicate services. I had a disappointing week this week as 3 of the services I wrote or tried to write turned out to be duplicates. I spent time writing one of them completely before working out it was duplicate. The next one I looked at I got half way through and then realised was a duplicate and the third one I realised was duplicated just as I started it. It felt like a morning wasted but I then realised this is why we are doing this. At no point has anyone tried to do this before, so there are bound to be duplications.

It is then how do you group them together? If I have a service of review business cases does that go under Benefits, because there are benefits in the business case? Does it go under Finance, because there are costs in the business case? Does it go under Portfolio Management as you need a business case in order to approve a project? Does it go under Project Start-up as you need a business case when you start a project? Does it go under consultancy as you are providing advice to the project manager? I am sure there will be other examples where we can have a healthy debate about the grouping of these services

Additions

As well as finding duplicates, I have found items that we missed. Whilst that is great as it makes it a more complete book, from a writing point of view just when you think you have completed a section then you find additional work for yourself.

Looking forward to next week

Now all of the smaller domains have been written it is time to tackle the larger domains. I expect if I am lucky I can get one of these domains written, maybe one and a half. I would like to finish this month if possible, but I do need to concentrate on trying to get the next contract sorted as well. If you know of anyone who could do with a PMO person then please get in touch.

Book writing week 4

Sunshine

Too hot to think

This week the temperatures have hit record figures in the UK, especially in the south of England where I am based. I normally love the summer, especially as I am writing this book based in the conservatory. But when the temperatures reach into the low 30 degrees Celsius then the keyboard becomes too hot to the touch and it feels like everything is melting.

Velocity GraphHow’s the velocity?

That has suffered this week with a bit of the heat getting to me. Now I have written a quite a few of the 300ish services that we started out with I have worked out what works and what doesn’t work. This has meant going back and tweaking the template we have for each of the groups and services. It also meant going back and changing the items that I had already written to have the same changes. It is amazing how long it can take to go back and make a few minor changes to 100+ files.

Did you manage to get what you wanted done?

Last week I hoped to have got a domain or two written. The good news (for me) is that I did manage to complete one full domain’s worth of services and I got half way through another. I also managed to have a review of the remaining services to try and get rid of the duplicates. On the way I did find a few new services that we had missed on our first review. I am sure there will be others that will be missing as well. That’s where the reviewers come in

What does next week bring?

Its more of the same for next week. As it is getting to the larger domains, it may seem that progress will slow down. I am aiming to finish the one I started this week, and hopefully finish another one as well. It all depends on the weather. At least it will be a bit cooler next week which will help

Book writing week three

PMO-Services Book
PMO-Services Book

Going Agile

It’s been another good week with the PMO Services and Capabilities book. I feel that this is really starting to take shape now. I have been making steady progress with the book and have been using a few of Agile techniques to help me.

When we started the writing we identified over 300 Services that a PMO could offer. No wonder that no two PMOs are created equal. For each of these Services we grouped them together in 2 tiers. We have a set of PMO Domains, within the Domains we have Groups. The Services then sit within the Groups.

 

 

 

Monitoring the backlog

With such a number of Services to describe it can be a bit daunting. This is when the Agile techniques come in. Why not create a burn down chart? If there are 300 Services to be written by a particular deadline, then you can have your baseline position. Then as each one is written it can go into the complete section and you can therefore see how well you are doing against the baseline.

The other useful, and related technique is to look at velocity, or how many Services are being written per day. This then can be used (as I am doing) as a personal target for what I want to deliver for the day. When I wake up I can take a look at the average velocity and that then become my target for the day. Some days I manage to deliver more than the average, other days it is much harder to maintain as the subject needs more thought and concentration

Is it on track?

The good news is yes. It is on track, in fact due to the previous 3 weeks worth of focus is going really well and the velocity is much higher than I was expecting it to be. I have found using these techniques very motivating, probably because I am ahead of target. It is good to have a lower individual daily target for work to be done rather than think I have 300 to write and I have only done 4 today. It is much better to say I have been averaging 4, and I have delivered 4.

What does next week bring?

Next weeks effort will be much the same as the current week. I have been kidding myself by trying to pick some of the domains without too many services listed, but if I complete a domain or two next week (there are 22 overall) then I will be pleased. If I have a good week I might get this up to a third of it written by the end of next week. A major milestone for me to look forward to and to aim for

Where did it all begin?

How did you get into PMOs?

I was having a chat with a few friends the other day and we were discussing how we got into PMOs, and whether that made a difference to our view of what the job was/is.

Here is my ‘origin’ story for those that care to read this sort of thing.

BeginingI came into the world of PMOs before anyone had mentioned the words Project Office. My first role as a PMO was in a KPI and controls role. At the time I was a IT developer (PL/1 and DB2 if you want to know, although I did spend a month trying to learn Fortran) and I wanted a pay rise. More specifically I wanted an upgrading. I had worked with a few people who had all gone up to the next level in the pay grades and I wanted some of that for myself. I therefore asked could I get a rise? Having got the answer no, I then looked around (internally) for other jobs and found a job I thought I was qualified to do as a KPI analyst. I did have to go and look up what a KPI was, and I think it took me a month of doing the role before I really worked that out. I applied and thankfully I was successful, so I bid the world of programming a fond farewell (although I still find myself dabbling now and again) and joined a KPI office

A KPI what?

What does (or should that be did) a KPI analyst do? It turns out the job was essentially to create and maintain a KPI dashboard. Personally, at the time I was pleased as I got access to my first proper PC, with Windows 3.1. A lovely large off-white tower of a machine. It was certainly a step up from the green screen mainframe computers I had been using

Tetris

 

As these were the days before centralised PC management it did mean that you could install whatever you liked on the PC, if you didn’t steal the software or cause a virus outbreak. I therefore found my love of Tetris. I still think this has a place in the modern PMO. I do think that resource capacity management reports would look better if you could move the blocks around like in Tetris to make a solid line. Maybe one day

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Car parking

What I found out doing this role was that the KPI office was the place that picked up all of the crap that needed to be done that no one else wanted. The couple of tasks that stick in my mind are ‘car park pass distributor’ where I was responsible for working out who could have a car parking pass (there weren’t enough for one each) based on the size of the team and working out a rota for usage. Also known as how to upset everyone all of the time. Even if there were enough passes to go around I soon realised that there was only one car parking space anyone wanted which was the one nearest the door to the building (and not only when it was raining). I thought 300 people and 100 spaces was difficult enough but 300 people and 1 space is even worse.

Health and Safety

‘COSHH’ a lovely little acronym which means Control Of Substances Hazardous to Health. As I worked for an airline at the time it was important that they took health and safety seriously. However, they decided it should apply to everyone, regardless of where they worked. In our department located in office block away from the airport and planes we had to work out what that meant. I did refuse to put up the ‘don’t run with scissors’ signs, but we did have to keep the Tippex behind a locked cupboard door just in case.

Recruitment

HeadhostWe got involved with the graduate intern programme, where we advertised for a series of roles and got applicants in doing their 3rd year from university in a workplace. That was great to see how not to apply for a job. People who thought working at Dixons on a Saturday qualified them to be a mainframe programmer. The people who got told to write a accompanying letter, but have worse handwriting than me. If you are that bad then type it, after all you will be working with computers. I particularly liked the one which came from a particular university which was in A3 card folded to be A4 all with a picture of the candidate. Not sure I was set on the idea at the time. Particularly for the folks who seem to have taken the picture in the dark

A brave new world

But all good things must come to an end. After about 18 months of doing this, and meeting virtually everyone in the building I got head-hunted to work on the FISS programme just as it was starting up in a new role of Project Office, although I don’t think it was called that until a year after I joined.