The Trace Evidence that Sunk a PMO Director

7155072088_87f590304f_oI was working with a design firm that finally decided it was time to start a project management office to improve their processes and procedures.

After a long search by the HR department, they finally found the person to head this new division. She had a lot of work experience across numerous industries, talked a lot about project management issues she was familiar with and presented her resume showcasing degrees and credentials. She would be the first certified professional in the project management field the company had ever hired and they were very excited to see what she could accomplish.

For the first month or so she seemed to excel. Some of her immediate actions included:

  • Recommending the company standardize on Microsoft Project for scheduling;
  • Recommending the company executives read some key project management books;
  • Getting all PMs in the company to start using some templates for meetings;
  • Developing an extensive KPI report in Excel; and
  • Holding regular PM meetings to share ideas and issues.

With all the positive buzz about these new changes, the company president decided it was time to task this new PMO director to handle projects that were in trouble with unhappy external clients. The new director was happy to jump in and use some of her “PM skills.”

A short while later the president decided to check in with some of the clients and PMs to hear how things were coming along.

Imagine his surprise when he learned that the situations were worse, not better. A couple of clients decided to terminate their projects early. One client wrote an angry letter to the company, and another project tripled in actual costs.

Unfortunately, every time the new PMO director got involved, it seemed like the project got worse. This didn’t make any sense based on the experience and qualifications of the individual.

The president immediately brought these issues to the attention of the HR person to look into.

Merely by coincidence, someone mentioned to the HR person that even though I was simply a consultant assisting the company with Microsoft Project issues, it just so happened that I was also certified in project management. I was called into HR and asked to review the resume of the PMO director.

I was quickly able to point out the tiny but telling detail that their new PMO director was in actuality probably NOT a certified Project Management Professional or PMP.

Her resume was listed as “Name, PMI” where it should have stated, “Name, PMP.”

The inexperience of the company in this field was clear since they didn’t know the difference. I simply pointed out that this person was probably just a member of the Project Management Institute. Anyone paying the appropriate fees could become a member. It was highly possible that their new PMO director was trying to learn the skills she needed on-the-fly.

She was promptly escorted out the same day, and I explained to the HR director to ask for an individual’s PMP certification number the next time they needed to hire someone and then to promptly look it up on PMI’s website.

Lesson learned from this company: Research the credentials you’re trying to hire.

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Written by Cindy M. Lewis

Cindy Lewis is an awarded Microsoft Project MVP and an expert in scheduling with a long history in project management. She holds numerous credentials in the field including: PMP, PMI-SP, MS, MOS, and MCT. She serves on the board of the MPUG Detroit chapter and is a frequent speaker at conferences and events across the country . Cindy’s personal passion is sharing knowledge with others and helping them grow and achieve personal success. Her training philosophy is known as the 4 Pillars of Success® which is also the name of her company. Feel free to connect with Cindy on social media or contact her directly through her website

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