Why Management Support Matters
As fond as employees are of complaining about management, the truth is that very little would get done in a PMO without management support. Management is just as much an element of the project management team as the client is. It’s just that management’s effect is much subtler—though no less significant.
Management charts the course, and the PMO gets you there. That’s the ideal way a project works. If management can provide clear direction and measurable goals for the PMO to shoot for, then the PMO’s efforts will be that much focused and effective.
Trust from Above
Providing direction is all well and good, but project managers also need to be given enough independence and authority to make decisions of their own. Even long-term projects can run at a blistering pace, and project leaders need to be swift and decisive.
I’ve worked on projects that have been micromanaged by upper management, and they almost always wound up mired in contradictory and ill-timed decisions, just because management didn’t know when to let go.
Approvals Keep the Ball Rolling
Management support also comes in the form of timely approvals and reviews. Ideally, project managers factor approval cycles into the project timeline, which should have already been reviewed and agreed upon by the stakeholders.
When your project’s in trouble, sometimes you need a little extra help from outside; maybe a contractor, consultant, or someone from another team. But if you try to court/steal/borrow another project manager’s resources, you may wind up sparking an internal conflict.
An appeal to management is often a much better and politically-neutral way of getting help. Yes, you can make recommendations, but management has the right and responsibility to source additional resources. Just be aware that other teams may be requesting help as well, and the final decision may not always fall in your favor.
This leads to management’s role as a mediator. If there’s an issue with a client’s account or project, supportive management can step in and field the issue themselves. This preserves your good relationship with the client, so that you can still face them day to day without any awkwardness or hostility. It’s good cop/bad cop at its finest. Likewise, management would be the best persons to handle any selling or negotiation. Not only is it outside a project manager’s job description, but management will probably be much better at it.
Image credit, Flickr, Steven Depolo
Patrick Icasas is a former marketing project manager with 7 years of marketing and PR agency experience, managing creative projects for brands such as Nokia, Verizon Wireless, and Adobe. He now spends his time helping people make the most out of their project management software and entertaining his 5 year old daughter.