Transcript: Delivering IMPACT with the PMO
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Welcome to the PMO Strategies Podcast + Blog, where PMO leaders become IMPACT Drivers!
Today we are going to talk about a really fun topic, getting it done. We’re going to talk all about execution, delivering your services and capabilities to the organization. Many of us spend all of this time doing the work to define the right solutions for your organization. We spend months, maybe too many months planning and talking to people in the organization to figure out what we need to do to help the organization achieve its goals. Then we get to deliver, we get to execute, and sometimes this is where things start to fall apart. So today we’re going to talk all about what happens during that delivery phase or what I like to call delivering continuously high IMPACT and return on investment for the organization. And what sometimes can go wrong during that stage and what to do about it.
Do you have support challenges?
If you’ve ever had any challenges with getting the support you need to implement your services or capabilities, if you don’t have your stakeholders beating down your door to get access to the services that you’re delivering, or if you just want to make sure that you do have them beating down the door when you get started.
This is the episode for you, but before we go any further, I want to ask you a question. Have you listened to the first four episodes of this series? If not, I would recommend you do that first. Why? Because they all build upon each other. If you go back to Episode 19: Questions to Ask Before Starting a PMO, that’s going to cover some pretty important questions. You’re going to want to make sure you ask and answer before you dive in to building a PMO, and if you already have a PMO and you’re hitting any kind of resistance or it’s just not going the way you thought, it would definitely go back and listen to that episode and ask and answer those questions.
I bet you answering those questions, we’ll uncover something for you that you might have been missing. Then once you’ve asked an answer those questions, the next thing you need to know is the secret to a PMO they’ll love or what I like to call assessing the organization for IMPACT opportunities. This is where you need to dive into a lot of listening and not a lot of talking. We dive deep into the questions you need to ask your stakeholders about the business problems they have, the challenges that they need to overcome and the opportunities that are ripe for the PMO. Picking to make sure that your PMO is right on target with what they need and most importantly what they want. Then we go into talking about the right services for your PMO because many times we are in a position where we think we know what they need and we know when to give it to them.
We’re missing the most important part of all, which is making sure that we’re giving them what they want and then we’re doing it in a way that helps us to build credibility and that’s what gets us to a sustainable PMO longterm. And then before you can start execution, you’ve got to plan. You have to build your PMO services roadmap and I know, I know sometimes we are the plumber with the leaky faucet, the cobbler whose children have no shoes. Do you know what I’m talking about? We love to dive in because we’re so excited to deliver and we neglect to spend the right amount of time planning. I know many of us to start as project managers and still, we don’t do enough planning because when it comes to our projects, we just want to dive in and go get it. This is where we need to be thinking about not just the fact that we need to do some planning, but what type of planning and what we want to think about how we position the PMO and the order of the services that we deliver.
There are some really important things you’ve got to know, so if you have not listened to those first four episodes, please do yourself a favor and go back and listen to those first because I’m going to keep building on this. You might be wondering, how do I know that it all builds? Simple, because this is all a part of the framework that I have built over more than 20 years of helping organizations accelerate their achievement of return on investment for all of their project changes and transformation work using the power of the PMO.
That’s right. I built my first PMO in 1999 and the framework that I use is based on building PMOs inside organizations as the PMO leader responsible in those organizations for 15 years and now helping my clients and my students use the same program, the same framework that took me those years to build with all of my lessons learned and all of my mistakes and all of my wins incorporated into a tried and true battle-tested framework.
So I know it works. I know it’s real. I know it’s practical, it’s applicable, and I want to help you get it done. So go listen to those four episodes, then come back to me here so we can talk all about execution, getting it done.
Where do we start delivering high IMPACT services and capabilities? We spent all of that time planning and defining and assessing to uncover when we started building or we started up-leveling our PMO, well, we start with our IMPACT delivery roadmap, right? We spent all of that time putting together our PMO business plan and our PMO delivery roadmap, and now we just execute. It’s so easy, right?
Well, it is until you start engaging with all the people, like your stakeholders. I know, I know. Trust me, I know. This is where things start to fall apart.
Everything would be fine if people would just follow our plan, right? Yeah. Well, that’s just not how reality works. I know you know what I mean?
What do we do when we are following our plan and things don’t quite go as expected? All of those roadblocks and barriers and distractions and derailments that happened to the most perfectly polished plan. Here’s my guidance to help keep you on track when it seems like the world is just going after your plan.
First and foremost, remember to start slow and stay focused along the way. There will be a lot of different priorities pulling on you and sending you in different directions. The very first thing to remember is that you’ve got to remain laser-focused on that first PMO direction you set for yourself and your team until you’ve at least gotten through one cycle, one round of solutions, one opportunity, roll something out, deliver something, let it sink in, evaluate before you move on.
What often happens is that we haven’t even finished building one service before our business leaders are trying to pull us in other directions. I want you to try and protect a 90-day cycle.
Remember we talk about doing certain solutions and changes in 90-day cycles? That’s what I’m talking about here. Keep a 90-day cycle. If you can keep your 90-day cycles precious, allow enough time for something to get done before you start changing to doing something else. That’s part of the reason we do these 90-day cycles. It’s short enough that you can keep your stakeholders patient to see the outcomes of that thing you’re trying to deliver and long enough to allow you to get something done.
If your work is too big to fit into 90-day cycles, then you’ve got to chunk it up and I don’t mean, “well we’re going to do our planning for this service in one 90 day cycle. Then we’re going to build requirements in the next 90-day cycle and then we’re going to use another 90-day cycle to review it and build things out and then another 90 day cycle to see if it did anything.”
That’s a year. That’s way too long for one service solution or capability.
I mean chunk up the work, and we talked a lot about this in the planning stage, so I’m not gonna dive too deeply on it here, but I’m just going to remind you if it’s taking longer than you think it will, which is probably going to always be the case. Then chunk the workups smaller so that you can deliver something, get something done and start showing value.
Start building credibility and if you stick to those 90-day cycles and you continue to refer people to your roadmap, you’ll have a much higher likelihood of getting everyone on board with you and staying focused on delivering that one thing and getting it done.
Now if you’d not sure how to break things up or chunk up the work instead of rolling out one service to all of the departments – how about you pilot that service with one department first, then roll it out to other departments after you’ve had time to collect feedback, lessons learned and make adjustments?
What if you only roll out one service that is fairly easy to implement? You know that low hanging fruit, that business pain point that you needed to solve immediately. Take one of those things and do that first and maybe you go wide instead of deep. My recommendation is if you’re going wide and deep, you’re probably doing it to such a degree that you’re not going to be able to stick to that 90 day cycle and that’s where your stakeholders start getting annoyed and wanting you to move faster or move on to the service that they really need to get in place.
Let’s talk a little bit about mindset. Now I’m sure that you’re clear on the IMPACT delivery mindset because you listened to the episodes where we went through that whole IMPACT Delivery Mindset Series. Right? Well if not or if you’re not clear or don’t remember exactly, you may want to go back and listen to those as well because, for you to start shifting the mindsets of those on your team, you’re going to need to have that top of mind. Have them go listen to that whole series episodes one through eight. Those episodes have been a game-changer for teams. I know PMO teams that all listened to all of those episodes together and then take a few minutes in their team meetings to discuss them and that’s what this next tip is all about. Bringing your team along with you. Don’t underestimate the importance of having an army of change agents all working to move your organization forward together.
This is critical for you when you’re building a PMO or rolling out new services and capabilities like you are. You’ve got to make sure that you’ve got everyone in sync marching to the same drum and having the same conversations and thinking and feeling and acting the same way. It becomes critical to creating the brand for your PMO. That is so important and we’ll come back to marketing in just a minute. As you’re going about helping your team with shifting their mindset.
Here are a few things to remember:
It won’t be overnight. Don’t forget how long it took you to make that shift and start living the new mindset that you’ve adopted. It’ll probably take them even longer because in your role as the leader of this team, and this still applies if you’re a PMO of one, because your team essentially becomes all of the stakeholders around you, and I’ll do a whole episode on being a PMO leader of one and how to build your change agent army even if there’s just one of you.
I’ve had several clients in that position and I will share some of their stories, some examples, and my best tips on how to handle building and running your PMO.
If there’s just one of you and when you are the leader of this team, you have a different perspective from which you see the organization and those that report into you. For example, stakeholders or other team members that you’re supporting, they may not have that same view or perspective. If you’re really fortunate, you might already have a C at the strategy table in your organization, which is a luxurious place to be seated because you get to see so much of how things work, how the mind of the organization runs, and it’s incumbent upon you to do everything you can to help instill that, to help share that and to bring those team members along with you.
The more they understand that perspective, the more they will understand the reasoning behind the changes the organization’s making. Including the priorities of the organization, and how you’re trying to shift and align your services and solutions to support the organization. So it’s really important to show them everything that you can and help them see what you see and have that same perspective. But it’ll still probably take them longer because they’re not sitting at that same perspective.
They don’t have the same responsibilities. Be patient with them and keep that in mind when you’re starting to shift your thinking and your mindset as much as you can bring them along with you in that process, the better. And if you find yourself getting frustrated with your team members or maybe the project managers that you’re working with, for example, it’s not their fault. I mean they are trained by every body of knowledge and certification program out there to focus on outputs.
So while you have switched your mindset and shifted the way you think about delivering IMPACT and you’re more focused on the outcomes, they’re still focused on the outputs because that’s what they’ve been trained and certified to do. They’ll talk a lot about which deliverables to create and all the steps in the process. That’s how they’re tested for the exam, right? There’s nothing wrong with that. It just doesn’t end there. So that’s why this is going to take a little time to help them make that shift.
Outputs to Outcomes to ROI
Now, I will say some bodies of knowledge are starting to shift more towards outcomes, but we’ve got some more work to do. Most of the language you hear will be about value and creating value, but it has got to go beyond that because the value is only part of the total IMPACT. The equation. We have to have a return, a value that made that investment worth it.
The actual conversation we need to have is about return on investment, ROI, the worth, that factor as I like to call it, as opposed to simply showing value and this whole worth, that factor concept is super easy to understand. When you look at it from pretty much anything of importance in your personal life, it doesn’t matter how wonderful the thing is that you’re coveting, but if the cost is such that it makes it more painful or not worth it, it doesn’t matter how valuable that thing is that you desire. If that car is so expensive that you’re going to be homeless and have to live in it, is it worth it? And that may sound funny, but that’s pretty much the way the return on investment conversations go. For example, well that project cost us $1 million to do and we were only going to get $1 million worth of return.
Was it worth spending six months working on that project to get to no return for that investment? We’re six months later all that time and energy and nights and weekends happened to make that project of reality and guess what? You have nothing to show for it and it doesn’t matter how smart you are. Sometimes it just takes time and you’ve got to hear it a few times.
For example, I was a keynote speaker at a conference earlier this year and talked a lot about return on investment and IMPACT and outcomes as opposed to just outputs. Then I did a panel session and talked about it again in a different way, but I kept talking about the same theme. Then I was in another session, a full-day workshop where I delve deep into all the strategies to help you shift your thinking and get to a higher return on investment focus and outcomes focus, and we had one student that was in each one of those sessions and later after all three of those sessions, she came up to me and said something that hit me really hard and was such a great reminder of this idea that we have to be patient and allow people to uncover things at their own pace.
She said, “now I listened to your keynote. I heard you in that panel discussion. I have listened to you all day in this workshop, and it wasn’t until I was watching you coach a peer sitting at my table that was struggling with the same thing I was that it finally clicked for me. I finally had the light bulb go off and understood what you meant around IMPACT and return on investment and outcomes versus outputs,” and she said, “thank you for doing that and I just wanted to let you know that I get it now.”
It was such a fantastic reminder that you’ve just got to stay steady and keep patience as you’re trying to bring people with you along this IMPACT mindset maturity curve. We’ll talk more about repeating yourself in a moment. The bottom line here is that there’s just so much to all of this and that learning curve will take some time for your project managers and your stakeholders and your team members to come along and if it’s not the project managers directly, but typically operationally focused stakeholders, it’s possible they aren’t even thinking about this IMPACT mindset stuff at all.
Practice patience, and it will take longer than you think, but don’t give up. The more your stakeholders have this mindset, the faster the entire body of work accelerates toward IMPACT delivery. It’s so worth it.
Marketing Your PMO
There’s one more thing I want to dig into here in this episode. That can be a huge derailer for PMO leaders when they’re trying to roll out their services and capabilities and it’s all about marketing. That’s right, marketing. If you are a part of the PMO IMPACT Summit this year, I specifically invited my friend Lauren Powell, a marketing expert to come and talk to all of us about communicating value with the PMO. It was one of the highest watched episodes. That tells me that we know it’s something important we need to do. I got so much great feedback from people that said, “wow, I hadn’t even thought about it from this perspective, but really I need to market my PMO now.”
Marketing is not a sleazy car salesman. It’s not about sell, sell, sell, and all of that that we think of when we think of marketing. Marketing is about educating your consumers about how what you do is exactly what they need and it’s not about faking it or making it up. It’s very closely tied to what we talked about in the assessment episode where we talked all about how we want to really understand the pain points, the challenges, the opportunities that our stakeholders have in front of them that our consumers really need help with, that our executives are toying with and struggling with and what’s keeping them up at night. It’s understanding them. That’s what marketing is about. Marketing is not about the PMO at all. Marketing is about understanding their needs, their wants, their desires, and then building a relationship with them so that they know you, they like you, they trust you, and then they will allow you to serve them.
Do you see what I mean? Those know-like-trust words are foundational in the marketing space. I hear it all the time from all of the people that I follow and everyone I know that does marketing and I have learned so much formally through my training programs as an entrepreneur and a business owner and informally as I was a PMO leader inside organizations and trying to understand how I connected what we were doing with the PMO to what people needed wanted and had asked for. That’s what marketing means from a PMO perspective. This is a place I feel that many PMO leaders underappreciate and undervalue. I’ve got an entire lesson on this in the Deliver module of my IMPACT Engine PMO training program because I feel like it’s so important to have a step by step process to understand how to own control and magnify your message about PMO and the value that it brings to the table.
Own Your Message
Have you ever experienced a scenario where people were talking about what your PMO was going to do or what it should do or even what it does do and it’s not at all what’s on your business plan or your IMPACT delivery roadmap or it’s not even a service you provide?
Yeah. That’s a lack of owning the message on your part.
This is why it’s so critical for PMO leaders to focus their energy on communicating the IMPACT the PMO is making because if you don’t own that message, they will own it. Trust me on this. I remember being inside an organization, big organization with a lot of different business units that we were serving and we had the most random services and solutions assigned to us that had nothing to do with what we were responsible for and this could be the outcome of some really good things happening.
For example, when our PMO was doing well, people wanted to use us for everything. They started to say, well, can we just use your program manager to help us with this HR problem? Because we just know them like them and trust them. See, so it’s not necessarily bad when that happens, but you do have to control it. I’m not saying that you just become the HR department. It came out of a very positive experience. They knew, liked and trusted our program manager.
Therefore they wanted to use that program manager to solve other problems so that’s a good thing but we do still have to redirect them on our purpose and what we’re really therefore otherwise you’re going to be getting your toes into waters that do not belong to you and you are likely to get them bitten write-off so instead we’ve got to make sure that we’re having the conversations with our stakeholders around what we should be doing and it takes a lot more than a newsletter here and there or a meeting or a status report.
You’ve got to constantly talk about it. I mean constantly. My phenomenal speaking coach Michael Port, a part of the Heroic Public Speaking program, he was also actually one of our PMO IMPACT Summit speakers this year. He says “when you are sick of sharing your message and you just can’t stand to say it one more time, they’re just starting to get it.” That’s right. You can talk about your PMO services, the IMPACT you’re making non-stop and they aren’t paying attention half of the time anyway. They got their own story running in their heads. They’ve got their own ideas, their own stresses, their own list of to do’s, so much is going on for them that they may not hear you the first time you say it and even if they do it doesn’t mean they really understand or can put it into practice like engaging with your PMO in the right ways.
You’ll know you’re doing it right when they can start repeating what you say or say it as you’re saying it. You know what I’m talking about. When somebody tries to finish your sentence, even if they do it with rolled eyes and a smirk, you know that you’ve gotten through to them. When that happens, just smile and know it’s finally starting to sink in. That’s right. It’s just starting to sink in at that point. Just because they said it doesn’t mean they fully absorbed it yet. Just keep going. They’ll get there but make sure you’re not preachy about it.
You’ve got to say it with intention and make it about them. Model what I talk about when we talked about assessing the organization for IMPACT opportunities that we’ll definitely talk about when I dive into making the case for a PMO in a future episode, go back to what you did in that assessment process and use their words to share the pain you’re solving and the way you’re making their world better.
Just remember to make it about them and not about you or your PMO. Everyone listens and internalizes something more when it’s about them. One really practical way to do this is by using your IMPACT delivery roadmap. What we built when we did the planning stage back in episode 22 or as I like to call it my favorite module, module four in the IMPACT Engine PMO training program, the way you use the roadmap is simple. It becomes a visual aid to help you communicate your message about the IMPACT you’re making because that roadmap has to have the services capabilities, the solutions you’re creating, the tie to that pain point or opportunity that you’re addressing. Simple one or two metrics that show how you’re tracking towards getting an IMPACT for that service or solution and when you are getting an IMPACT, how are you moving the needle?
Very, very simple and straightforward, but that helps you with the framework of how you talk about the IMPACT you’re making for the organization and as you lay out the different services and capabilities. Your stakeholders can find themselves on that roadmap, they’ll find that solution you’re creating to their pain point on that roadmap and you can use that to continue the conversation about what they’re getting when and set expectations with them. Not just about being on the receiving end but how and when they’re going to participate in the process of developing that service or capability.
Don’t forget they’ve got to do it with you. You’re not going to be doing this to them. You’re going to be doing it with them and we’ll talk more about that in the next episode, the last episode in this six-part series, or as I like to call it, the Six Steps to Building and Running a High IMPACT PMO.
Remember that your goal is raving fans that share the message of the positive IMPACT, the PMOs making to help them achieve their goals. And your job as a PMO leader is to own cure, rate, cultivate and deliver the message about the value the PMO was creating and the IMPACT it’s helping the organization. And those in it realize now, of course, there’s so much more to delivering the services and capabilities your PMO solutions to your stakeholders. But if you just do these things, you will be so much better off than so many other PMO leaders out there that struggle to get that engagement, that support any real traction with their PMO.
Start slow and stay focused at least for one 90 day cycle so that you can pull together one set of services or capabilities, roll something out, deliver something, let it sink in of valuate, get some feedback and before you move on you will be so much more likely to start showing real for the organization.
Build your army of change agents and remember to bring them with you through the process of understanding this shift in mindset to create this IMPACT delivery culture in your team and throughout the organization.
Understand and appreciate the importance of marketing and communications. You’ve got to control the message and make sure that you’re doing everything you can to continue to talk about until you’re blue in the face, the PMO and not from a selling or a bragging perspective, but really from a storytelling and win sharing and service mindset. If you share the stories of what others are experiencing and if you really make it clear how you are delivering IMPACT through the services and capabilities you’re delivering, you will build that know, like and trust factor that are the keys to successfully connecting the needs of your stakeholders with the value you bring to the table as a PMO.
All right, those are your three tips for today. If you want to make sure that you continue to deliver high IMPACT and return on investment for your PMO services, that you’ve spent so much time building and planning and delivering.
Now I have another option for you if you’re anything like me and a little impatient when it comes to kind of getting the whole picture of the six steps. You can join me for my free masterclass, which is all about helping you learn the game-changing techniques and the full six-step system overview that I call my Impact Engine PMO system.
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