Total CIO - PMO becomes cornerstone of IT executive leadership

Linda Tucci wrote an interesting article on Total CIO titled “PMO becomes cornerstone of IT executive leadership” that got my attention. The title is a great one…and after reading the article, I’m intrigued.

The article discusses how Ogilvy & Mather‘s Worldwide CTO Yuri Aguiar is using the Project Management Office (PMO) to drive business and IT alignment.  Linda writes:

The power is not in the PMO, per se, Aguiar said, but in a fundamental change in how projects are funded and managed at Ogilvy. All projects are reviewed by three architects and subjected to a risk mitigation and management (dubbed RM2) metric before approval. Top priority is given to revenue-generating projects. Urgent projects trump “important” projects, and timelines run about 12 to 14 months max. Also, all project managers report directly to Aguiar. “If somebody is running one day late, he or she is knocking on my door,” he said. ”

Interesting concepts here.  In many of the PMO’s I’ve seen / worked with, they’ve had a senior leadership team that made decisions on which projects to fund. Aguiar’s approach seems to be based around a lower level decision making process (which is good) which determines the viability of the project from a usefulness, risk and priority of projects.

Looks like Aguiar might be on to something here with this approach to a Project Management Office.  I do have some questions that might be answered by a more detailed article by Tucci (as she states she’s planning on writing one), but until I see more, I’ll voice my questions here for discussion.

Question – PMO and PM’s reporting directly to the CTO/CIO?

I don’t really have an issue with this if the PMO handles only IT issues. That said,, I have to wonder if this is a viable, long-term approach.  The article says that the Projects Managers report directly to the CIO.  Managing a PMO and PM’s is a full-time gig…does today’s CIO have time for this? Maybe they have to make time? Is this the best method for a CIO to align IT projects with the business?  It might be.

Question – How are project priorities determined?

This isn’t really answered in the article but if the project priority is assigned by the CIO, is there a large voice of users and stakeholder’s being missed?  Does the organization have a Project Committee that reviews projects to assign priorities?  How should priorities for projects be assigned to ensure proper IT / Business Alignment.

Question – Who “approves” the Projects?

The article states that each project is reviewed by architects and a risk mitigation and management metric is assigned prior to approval but no real description of the approval process.  I’m just curious as to what the process is here.

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