Balance the scales

take a big-picture look at the yin and yang of your project management office staff

Take a big-picture look at the yin and yang of your project management office staff.


Delivering real value to internal clients requires getting the right team for your project management office (PMO). Often, the recruitment focus is on qualifications, work experience and whether the candidate is the right fit for the company. This approach is fine when focusing on individual PMO specialists but falls short when a PMO must perform as a team. There are two key areas where striking the right team balance becomes indispensable.

Good executive reporting is about presenting an accurate view of the facts. This is easier said than done. The crux of the matter is to ensure the facts are not inflated or understated. Getting this right is extremely challenging for PMO teams and means the PMO resources must possess the right traits.


People by their very nature are either pessimists or optimists. A pessimistic person might underplay positive elements, whereas an optimistic person may overplay them. Left to their own devices, the reports are distorted. However, if these team members are tasked with preparing the executive report together, the probability of producing a balanced report increases. This is because they will challenge each other.

For example, the pessimist might see a missed milestone as endangering the project and raise a red flag. The optimist might dismiss the missed milestone's impact on the completion date and insist on a green flag. By working together, they can meet in the middle and agree on a compromise.

Hence, staffing PMO teams with a right mixture of pessimists and optimists can greatly improve the accuracy of reporting.


The core function of most corporate PMOs is to roll out a corporate project methodology. Usually, a team is required to accomplish this task. However, this task will fall into jeopardy if the team only consists of either methodology purists or pragmatists.

Methodology purists concentrate most of their efforts on building the ideal project methodology. They pay little attention to the corporate environment or project culture. Conversely, pragmatists focus their energies on implementation of the methodology and are willing to customize it to fit within the corporate ecosystem.


For instance, the methodology purists will insist that a set of documents be filled in at each stage in the project cycle. The pragmatists, on the other hand, realize the burden this can place on project teams and seek to keep documentation to a bare minimum. By working in tandem, they increase the success rate for the adoption of the project methodology across the organization.

The next time you choose PMO staff, take care to ensure your team possesses the right mix of people to give the PMO a better chance at delivering value. Pick people who possess a range of personality traits to ensure the successful rollout of the project methodology. PM

img Abid Mustafa has worked with project management offices for eight years. His book In the Age of Turbulence: How to Make Executive PMOs Successful is available in paperback and on Kindle.




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