In recent discussions with several evolving and maturing PMO organizations, it was obvious to me that they were wrestling with the question “What is more important:  To have a robust Project Risk Management Plan in place or an actionable Project Closeout and Lessons Learned Process?’

Those of you who have followed my PMO blog since I started it in January 2010 will realize that I have devoted much time and effort to developing a Project Closeout and Lessons Learned Framework which is aimed at providing an “actionable” process improvement output for an organization’s project group.  You have also heard me talk about the relationship between a Project Lessons Learned process focused on “Significant Events” in projects to an active Risk Management Plan for project work.  Talking to many in the project community, I believe that some have concluded that I believe that an “actionable” project lessons learned process is more valuable than a Risk Management Plan.

What I would like for those to understand is that a Project Risk Management Plan is just as important as an actionable Project Closeout and Lessons Learned Process.  As I have discussed in the past, most PMOs evolve by developing a “once through” project management methodology which offers the organization specific outcomes or deliverables from its projects.  Once PMOs digest the feedback from stakeholders, customers, auditors and others in the organization who have valuable input into a PMO’s competencies, capabilities and development, the PMO begins to introduce additional capabilities that justify themselves on a cost/benefit basis.  Such capabilities as Vendor Management and Risk Management are typically introduced in the methodology to provide additional benefits to the project successes.

I once worked for a Manager in an IT Project Office who said to me “You are going to be my audio visual man.”  To me that sounded like a very menial job but I began to ask questions about what that really entailed.  Because our conference rooms had not been installed with dedicated audio visual equipment, each time a project manager or other project lead presented to the group, I would have to check out a projector and any cabling from our HR department and set it up in advance of the presentation.  Since HR had only five such projectors, it meant scheduling the equipment in advance of a presentation and then securing it on the day of the presentation to be sure someone else did not beat me to the equipment.  As I learned over time, the projector and related cabling was just as important to the success of the presentation as the presenter being present to deliver the presentation.  I learned that all the competencies had to be in place for a successful presentation if the group and the company were to gain from the work.  Over time as I began to present more project work to the group, I realized just how important the audio visual equipment really was.

This is typical of the way maturing organizations operate.  As they recognize the need to build in capabilities, they incorporate those capabilities in the next “build out” of their facilities like the project presentation rooms.  Most mature organizations now have audio/visual equipment built into the facility so that capability can contribute to success of every presentation.  Likewise, in maturing a PMO building in Risk Management is a given so that it can contribute positively to every project.

Risk Management and Project Lessons Learned are two competencies and capabilities that need to be in place for a really successful project outcome and success.

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