Project Management: Downsizing Your Pmo

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PMOs can face downsizing efforts for a variety of reasons, including budget reductions and the loss of key business partnerships. No matter the cause, PMO scale-backs can have long-lasting effects on team productivity, morale, and individual performance. By following some baseline principles, you can help lessen the negative impacts and keep your team functioning at its best.

Distribute information early. Share the news with your team as soon as youve received approval to do so. This will give folks time to come to grips with the new plan, and work through their feelings and concerns. If you dont know exactly what the future holdseither because the information hasnt been released, or because the full plan hasnt yet been formulatedlet your team know where your knowledge of the situation ends. Its difficult to move forward if your team feels youre withholding critical information.

Acknowledge fears and concerns. Transitions are difficult, and your PMO is likely to face some uncertainties moving forward. Dont insult the team by painting a problem-free picture. Instead, discuss the functions that will be left open by departing members, and review any immediate effects your projects will experience. Youll not only help your remaining team members feel a closer sense of camaraderie by tackling a difficult situation together, youll also be publicly acknowledging the value of those leaving the group.

Offer support where appropriate. Work with your human resources team to provide letters of recommendation for employees scheduled to be terminated, and network with colleagues in other companies to let them know you have coworkers who are in need of new opportunities. If departing team members have a period of transition before their employment in your group ends, there may be outplacement support available. Allow them the time necessary to attend workshops, such as those on job search techniques, and to interview with potential employers.

Once the plans have been disseminated and personnel issues worked through, its time to look at continuing your PMOs success into the future.

Evaluate remaining personnel. If youre losing folks with specific skill sets, determine who among your remaining members may be able to fill the gap. Look for areas of expertise, education, and certification. Determine where opportunities exist to shuffle or reassign personnel to better leverage the expertise that remains. Now is also the time to identify who can handle additional responsibility, whos capable of stretching to the next level of performance, and whos a good candidate for mentoring.

Look for growth opportunities. Investigate the options available to bolster your teams skills and education. Where can you focus your training budget for the best benefit? Which skills will be the most sorely missed? How much internal cross-training can be done to close any gaps? Funds may continue to be tight, but its critical that you nurture every ounce of potential that exists within your group.

Investigate outside resources. Vendors, consultants, and business partners may be able to augment, either temporarily or long-term, the skills and expertise of your internal staff. Be sure you understand what type of help is available, and what the costs are likely to be. Notify your executive team that you may need to leverage outside resources, and remember to include any new line items in upcoming project budgets.

Evaluate existing priorities. Is your team able to continue supporting the projects that are still active? What about any that are in the pipeline, will those exceed your available resources? Work with your executive team, stakeholders, and team members to determine which projects can continue as originally planned, and which may need to be scaled back or canceled.
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PMAlliance, Inc. is a project management consulting, project management training and project office development company.

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Project Management: Downsizing Your Pmo

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This article was published on 2010/10/10