Establishing healthy and efficient Project Management within a company can be extremely difficult. It must meet the needs of the organization and the individuals within, and it must also be as valuable as the investment in running it. In 2007, Kris Reynolds, PMP, set out to create a PMO to provide the necessary support and control needed on company-wide projects. This case study details customer success in the creation of the TV Guide PMO and the culture change that took place as a result. Through the streamlining of best practices, the establishment of true methodologies, and the alignment of the PMO with the goals of the company, a greater understanding of Project Management developed and a valuable PMO was born; one that garnered an Outstanding Organization designation by PM Network in 2008.
Before the PMO at TV Guide was created, there were several people with the title of Project Manager; however, they were not performing true project management functions. After a year of analyzing the lack of efficiency and the gaps occurring primarily in the Product Management and Operations departments, the idea of a PMO, led by Mr. Reynolds, was approved by executive management. Among the initial goals were: bringing in seasoned project managers with knowledge of the methodology being implemented, improving PM best practices that encouraged speed to market, and correct software functionality.
A shared purpose was crucial to the success of this PMO getting off the ground. The challenge was how to get people, most of whom didn’t know anything about Project Management, to genuinely care and contribute to breaking the cycle of doing things the way they had always been done.
All Aboard the Process Train – A user-friendly template was created for documenting all processes performed by ancillary stakeholders to the PMO. This knowledge share ensured proper communication and understanding between departments. Once a process was vetted and understood by someone from an outside department, a paper train car, symbolizing the documented process for that particular department, was posted in a main thoroughfare, visible to all TV Guide employees. Pitting departments head-to-head to get processes approved, created a fun atmosphere, resulting in more than 120 documented processes. This healthy competition led to higher customer satisfaction, broke down the traditional departmental silos that had been in place, and made it easier to onboard new hires.
PM Tote Board – A centrally located dashboard of everything going on with the organization’s projects, displayed hard-copy status on individual projects as well was quarterly success rates. This achieved a greater companywide understanding of the PMO, acting as a visual representation of the daily functions of the department. Companywide KPIs and milestones were posted on the board on 11.5″ x 17″ pieces of paper, with successfully hit milestones earning large green thumbtacks and small celebrations. This positively affected the company culture by bringing departments together working towards a common goal. Not only were employees more aware of key project deliverables and dates, they became active contributors to their success.
Stop Wasting My Time: Implementing Effective Meeting Management – The No. 1 complaint of meeting attendees is that their time is most often wasted due to the ineffectiveness of how the meetings are run. Creating a culture of respecting people’s time was paramount to combating this negative sentiment. This was achieved at TV Guide by mixing in the ingredients for successful meetings (see image) thereby cooking up a new meeting culture. One of the easiest and most impactful changes was ending meetings five minutes early giving employees additional time to make their next meeting. This showed respect for attendees’ time and quickly grew to being adopted at meetings that were lead by non-PMO members. This created greater organizational punctuality across the meeting landscape.
Making key processes and data readily available to employees outside of project management, allowed everyone to “play from the same sheet of music” promoting a philosophy of efficiency and teamwork. The results were seen not only through ownership of the company’s projects (and their specific “triple constraint” elements of time, cost, and scope), but in the company’s culture and morale.
Key Success Factors
Paraphrasing Jason Fried, “You don’t create a culture. Culture happens. It’s the by-product of consistent behavior.” The changes the PMO had on TV Guide’s culture did not happen overnight, but rather through a conscious, focused effort to evoke a fundamental change in the way employees thought about effectiveness. Changing the mindset through observation, explanation, and implementation of quick wins created the momentum needed for the PMO to have a positive impact. Procedures were implemented enabling employees from multiple departments to feel like valued pieces of the Project Management puzzle. Coupled with the tracking of company milestones and celebrating those who played key roles in their achievement, a new organizational culture of understanding, respect and collaboration emerged, becoming the new norm.
Project Management Education
Sharing the methodology and value of Project Management was a key focus of the TV Guide PMO. It created an established a framework that allowed for the simplification of PM processes and better understanding of what “true” project management was all about. This started initially inside the PMO but soon created knowledge sharing opportunities to ancillary project stakeholders in other departments. The PMO message was further evangelized through the training of numerous TV Guide employees in multiple locations, and spread further still by the adoption of many of the PMO processes and tools by TV Guide subsidiaries.
Proving the Value of the PMO
Defining the “right” Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for the organization upfront to paint a picture of what success would look like helped ensure that expectations were being met and that the PMO’s objectives were aligned strategically with TV Guide’s overarching mission. Consistent and transparent reporting of successes, and the implementation of lessons learned, instilled trust and maintained support from Executive Management. The visual representations of the PMO’s progress which was made available to the entire company fostered interest from individuals outside the PMO and created opportunities to discuss the value of both the PMO and those of the individual to the organization’s success. The PMO was able to annually raise the bar on its departmental goals as well as extend its reach creating sustainable value across the organization.
At Arrowhead Consulting, we guide companies through the process of sustainable growth and development from beginning to end. Our industry experts help facilitate growth centered around project management, leadership development and organizational effectiveness through training, workshops and innovative technologies. We understand that each situation is unique, and our strength lies in creating tailor-made plans that ensure success for every one of our clients. As we adapt to each project, we maintain our core values to ensure the development of our company.
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