Ok, you have already listed the objectives of your project office, the responsibilities, and now you have a Sponsor and a budget. you have the go ahead and the management buy – in.
The next big question. …. Do you have sufficient PMs in your project office to deliver the expectations? How do you find out? You can try the following,
Assess your existing Project Mangers (Their Knowledge, Experience, Training, and Past success records),
In this case, I would setup an interview with each PM., not more than 15 minutes per interview. Just an informal discussion. Before that I will be ready and list down all my expectations of PMs in the New Project Office.
At the time of the interview, I will give some marks for each expectation listed in my list. So end of it I know where I stand with my exiting Staff. This really helps to identify the individual’s different skill levels and areas needed to be improved. They may need some training, or some formal certification. You can make lots of decisions by using this simple matrix.
If you think that you need to recruit some new PMs for your project office, you have 2 options, either you promote somebody among your team members who is willing to be a PM or you recruit a PM from another organization.
Don’t ever do the mistake of promoting your best techie to a PM, unless he/she has PM skills. This is a common mistake done by most of the senior managers., either we force best techies to manage projects or they take that responsibility due to some other reasons. Unfortunately the result is that not only the project suffers, you loose your valuable technical resource too. My personal belief is that , Project Management is a born skill. You cant get a developer, teach him some methodologies and expect him to be a good Project Manager overnight.. Unfortunately it never works that way…A PM needs lot of experience to be a good PM., the decisions that he or she makes should be situational and practical. In this case, find capable people from your staff, Interview them and make sure their career path as a PM., Create some test cases for them with some complicated project issues., see their reactions to it., In this way, you can judge whether they will fit in to your Project Office.
In SL , recruiting an experienced PM from outside the organization is simply impossible., I do have lot of bad experience with that. One simple reason is that Project Management is still a very young profession in SL and no many experienced good PMs available in the job market., the few experienced PMs are already working in some reputed organizations and they are not willing to join another company easily. The other problem is that their financial expectations are too high., (With this job market, its impossible to practice Projectized Organization structure. You cannot release your PMs once the Project is over simply because you will never find any to start a new project again. In SL still there is no contract basis IT resource market. People are still thinking of stable jobs.. which we should discuss in some other post)
Lets think that somehow you got set of good candidate for your Project office., How do you select a good PM out of them., Recently I read one article ( Sorry I forget the name or reference) which says simulation is one of the best methods of interviewing a project manager. As an example, you setup the interview panel as a team, they act like stake holders with different attitudes. You provide your case to the PM candidate and ask him or her to conduct a meeting. You can observe how he or she handles the situation and overcome problems. But the problem I see in this is that you need to spend quite a lot of time for interviews, (though you try this only for short listed candidates). My simple method is again a Matrix. I prepare it with various expectations. Communication, presentation, conflict handling… the list is very long.. then I make sure that I ask at least one question to cover each area., I give marks based on their answers.. That works for me..