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The First Step is Usually the Hardest

Nov 27, 2023
The First Step is Usually the Hardest

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,” says Lao Tzu. True, but the problem with that “one step” is that this first step is usually the hardest one to take! Why? Because it requires you to move from a state of inaction to action. Or even worse, shifting from action in one direction towards action in another. 

The same challenge occurs when a PMO embarks on its Organizational Project Delivery Journey. The OPD Journey is the unique path organizations take to learn how to deliver projects, build a PMO team, integrate culture, align with strategy and, ultimately, provide value.  

The first step in this journey is a doozy. Your PMO must pivot from Ad Hoc Project Management to Standardizing Project Delivery. Ad Hoc Project Management is where project managers operate in silos. There’s no coordination or collaboration between different departments and the project management function is totally decentralized. Standardizing Project Delivery is when a PMO starts to take shape: project managers are working together to share best practices, devise standard practices, and the model of centralized project delivery begins to emerge. 

Why this First Step is So Hard 

This first step is hard for several reasons: 

  • You Are Introducing Something New - Newton’s first law states that a body at rest is prone to stay at rest, and a body at motion is prone to stay in motion. That is, unless a body is being acted upon by some outside force. The same thing applies to the first step in the Organizational Project Delivery Journey. When you introduce something new to the organization (moving from random project management to standardized project management), it requires effort on everyone’s part to replace old ways with the new. 
  • It’s an Organizational Change - It’s not just the PMO that must change when moving from Ad Hoc project management to Standardizing project delivery. This is a change for the entire organization. The PMO doesn’t deliver projects for the sake of the PMO. Rather, the PMO delivers projects for the sake of the organization, and to provide value for the business. If the changes in process are relegated to just the PMO, you’ll never make it past the first step of your journey. 
  • There Will Be Gaps - Early in the transition, gaps will need to be filled. These gaps will be apparent in people, process, and/or technology. Rather than waiting for everything to line up perfectly before you start to move (it won’t), start taking the first step and then fill in the gaps as they appear. It could mean finding new PPM software, training your project managers, or even creating new templates. 

Standardized Delivery is Nothing New 

The principle of standardized delivery by department is nothing new. For example, everyone has accepted that Accounting sends out invoices and collects money, Legal reviews and drafts contracts, and Marketing develops campaigns to generate new business. Nobody does it better than those who specialize in their respective areas.  

That is, until it comes to project management. Moving from Ad Hoc to Standardizing Project Delivery requires taking hold of the reins of project management in your company and saying, “Nobody does it better than us, and from now on, projects will be delivered our way.” Do you see why this first step can be so hard? 


How Can You Take This First Step? 

There are two ways to begin this journey. The first is to have enough fortitude and perseverance within your newly formed, centralized PMO and project management team to be able to power through the inertia. Start with small wins. Make it easy to work with you and your team to deliver results. Over time, you will gain credibility, and people will come to you whenever they want a project to deliver real business results. 

The second way is to hire The PMO Squad. We make this first step exponentially easier by bringing in hundreds of years of combined PMO and project management experience. Even if you know what needs to be done, sometimes it’s easier to get everyone to buy into a new direction by bringing someone in from the outside.  

So, if you find yourself struggling with taking the first step when moving from Ad Hoc Project Management to Standardizing Project Management, take heart that most thriving PMOs struggled with that as well. The reason WHY your PMO exists should be clear and set in your mind, and then you start moving forward. Before long, you will arrive at Stage 5 of the Organizational Project Delivery Journey, where you are generating true value! 

Are you lost or struggling to gain traction on your Project Management Journey?

Schedule a Complimentary Strategy Session with one of our experts so that we can discover your challenges, design your solution, and implement success in your projects!

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