Attack of the Governance Monster!!

Governance is the act of governing. It relates to decisions that define expectations, grant power, or verify performance. It consists of either a separate process or part of decision-making or leadership processes.

Project Management Office, abbreviated to PMO, is a group or department within a business, agency or  enterprise that defines and maintains standards for project management within the organization. The PMO strives to standardize and introduce economies of repetition in the execution of projects. The PMO is the source of documentation, guidance and metrics on the practice of project management and execution. 

Governance has its place in Project Management Offices, however when the governance person or group within the PMO becomes a monster, governance impedes successful delivery of projects which is what Project Management is truly all about.

An organization I did some work for had a governance organization within the larger PMO whose job was to do as described in the two definitions above for Governance and PMO. However, the larger message was missed which is successful project delivery/execution.

Too many projects would suffer from QA of documentation with Project Managers not getting help to complete the documentation which would not provide any value to the delivery of the project. Let that sink in. 

Documentation for the sake of documentation to justify weak project managers existence as they provide governance and tell you how YOU should manage the project, while they sit at their desk creating documentation and processes without any input from the actual Project Managers and Program Managers doing the execution of these projects.

One individual in particular in this governance organization of the PMO, in the spirit of October and Halloween lets call him Ichabod Craine although in this story instead of being Headless he’s actually Brainless, would present challenges to projects that would inundate PMs and provide absolutely NO VALUE. He would recommend that projects be done Agile when they had nothing in scope that would warrant or take advantage of being done Agile. He would perform QA spot checks and ask for documentation to be created that had no reason being created for that individual project just because it is listed in the processes the PMO created. The same processes they created and claim are one size fits all projects when in actuality they don’t. 

Governance and a PMO should provide value to projects. That is they should help the projects to deliver successfully and the use of resources on the project achieve the results originally intended. When the evil Governance Monster rears its head and provides no value to the project and in fact impedes successful delivery of projects, this is when you have failed and need to blow the PMO up.

Or at the very least eliminate the useless individuals within the governance organization that are not providing value, not soliciting the input from the actual Project Managers doing the work and basically sitting around collecting checks at the expense of the successful delivery of the project portfolio. 

Governance serves its purpose, but when it provides no value to the PMO or IT organization as a whole its time to destroy and rebuild. After all who is policing the police?