[00:00:03.430] - Announcer
Do you wonder if others are dealing with the same project management challenges as you, not sure where to turn for guidance and Leadership, Office Hours are in session as we discuss project management and PMOs with Global leaders hearing their story and learning their secrets to success. Our goal is to empower you and help you elevate your PMO and project management career to new heights. Welcome back to Project Management Office Hours with your host, PMO Joe.
[00:00:33.810] - PMO Joe
Welcome everyone to Project Management office hours. We're the number one live project management radio show in the US, broadcasting to you today from our Phoenix Business RadioX Studios here in Tempe, Arizona. I'm your host, PMO Joe, and for the next hour or so, we'll be talking project management with our guests today, who's in the studio with us. So many of our guests have been remote the past couple of years, so it's always great to have somebody here to look at and respond to, actually with body language and to be able to see them. And we'll get to our guests here in just a moment, but as you know, we always start off with some announcements to get our show going. And it's that time of year again where the PMO Global Alliance hosts their yearly competition to identify the top PMOs and leaders in the industry. So if you're not familiar with that, I strongly suggest everyone go out to the PMO Global Alliance website and check it out. Great opportunity for industry leaders to be judges to help judge the competition. We've been fortunate over the years to have several winners as guests on the show.
[00:01:44.630] - PMO Joe
So we've had Peter Taylor, Laura Bernard, Lucho Guardado, Mariia Abdullina, and of course, America Pinto, who is the founder of the PMO Global Alliance has been on. So we have a great relationship with them. And I've also been fortunate over the past couple of years. In 2020 and 2021, I was named one of the top eight PMO Influencers in the World and then was surprised last Friday I'm 2022 back into the top eight PMO Influencers in the World. And on August 1, they'll name the top four, the final four finalists for that. So maybe this year I'd make it to the final four. And in November they announced the winner. So who knows? It might be nice to say I'm one of the top PMO, but I guess I am one of the top in the world. Maybe I'll be number one. We'll see, certainly. Congratulations to all the other nominees. Of the eight, myself would be one. Five of the other seven have been guests on this show and then the other two, we will get to be guests on this show. We'll get that invitation out and we'll get them in here as well. So stay tuned for everybody in the industry over the next couple of weeks and next couple of months as we get down to who's the PMO Leader of the Year, PMO Influencer of the Year, and PMO of the year.
[00:03:05.130] - PMO Joe
And then they have some industry lifetime achievement type of words as well. So it's a great exercise that Americo and his team does, and I'm glad to be a part of it. A reminder to everybody that you can also watch these shows or listen to these shows and claim a PDU. Each show is an hour. We have fantastic guests that have been on over the years with amazing content, and this is an opportunity for you to be able to go out and self identify the sessions that you listen to and claim those PDUs to help you continue your certifications. Also, a reminder, we are live. You're catching us either on Internet, radio, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, reaching millions of people around the world. How exciting is that? Or at least the ten people that are watching, whatever the number is or somewhere in between. And they're all here to see The Smart PM, our special guest, Melissa McDonald. Welcome, Melissa.
[00:04:06.000] - Melissa McDonald
Thank you, Joe. Thank you. And congratulations on your nomination.
[00:04:10.230] - PMO Joe
Thank you so much.
[00:04:11.160] - Melissa McDonald
Very well deserved.
[00:04:12.990] - PMO Joe
It's nice to I did a LinkedIn post on this week, right? People put in so much. We all do. We put in so many hours behind the scenes that a lot of people don't see, and to be recognized for that is really gratifying. So I've been fortunate to do what I love. I don't really feel like I ever go to work because I'm just doing who I am, and I'm just honored to be part of that group. So thank you.
[00:04:37.530] - Melissa McDonald
Very well deserved.
[00:04:39.580] - PMO Joe
So let's get to know you a little bit better. If you want to take a moment just to say hello to the audience and let them know who you are. Who's Melissa McDonald?
[00:04:47.310] - Melissa McDonald
Melissa McDonald is a very simple person, and she loves cycling. And Tour de France is going on right now, so I'm happy right now. I just recently went out on my own to start my own consulting company and really loving what I've been doing outside of corporate America and helping people with what it was that I need to help with the most myself. My background is project management itself, and you've helped me in the past in many ways with project managers and different things. So I really appreciate your support and your mentorship along the way. For where I'm at now, I guess.
[00:05:37.650] - PMO Joe
We probably first met three years ago, I bet.
[00:05:41.720] - Melissa McDonald
[00:05:42.460] - PMO Joe
[00:05:43.390] - Melissa McDonald
I know that prepandemic post start up where everything just ended and they let the US. Office go. Yes.
[00:05:52.860] - PMO Joe
So it was good times. As you mentioned, PMO Squad has been able to support you and some corporate roles along the way and certainly here to help anybody in our industry, really, that's looking for help. But somebody local in Phoenix that's making an impact like you are with your firm, that's all the more reason to be able to shine the spotlight on you and let the world get to know what I know of how impactful you can be to help them with their organization as well.
[00:06:21.640] - Melissa McDonald
Well, and that's the unique thing, is I'm helping more people outside of Arizona than within because of the virtual essence of work now. So it's been very fulfilling in a lot of ways to be able to have people reach out to you. I've had people from Africa reach out to me. I've had discovery calls with Columbia. So it's been very interesting.
[00:06:47.490] - PMO Joe
It's a connected world, right. And maybe one of the positives that's come out of Covid, if we want to call anything a positive out of that, is the new opportunities that have come up for all of us in the consulting business to be able to reach customers anywhere. If you're on a zoom call, it's like you're next door neighbors, right? You don't know that you're thousands of miles apart, right? So let's get to know a little bit about the Smart PM. You've got your Smart PM shirt on. If everybody can see that, where does the name come from?
[00:07:21.110] - Melissa McDonald
So it was a play on what I was looking at doing in my niche. And everyone said, you need a niche when you're going to go into business for yourself, because we've got a lot of project management out there. My niche is Smartsheet. It was a tool that I found a couple of years back and I've brought it to different organizations with me and it's been a great tool. I've even applied for jobs at Smartsheet and never got them. So it finally just dawned on me in the fall when I was thinking, I need to do something else and project management. But what's that niche? So Smartsheet is that niche? And it just occurred to me, hey, the Smart PM, the Smart work something out there. I looked it up for the LLC license and it was there. It just all came together so nicely. So it's a play on project management and Smartsheet itself.
[00:08:20.010] - PMO Joe
And you're a Smart project manager. Correct. And I say that because you've been in leadership roles, right? You've helped many or several companies lead their project management function.
[00:08:32.330] - Melissa McDonald
[00:08:32.890] - PMO Joe
And again, we don't have to get into details of who those companies are, unless you want to or not, but help everybody understand your experience as a PMO leader as well.
[00:08:43.350] - Melissa McDonald
So in the last recent years, I was a director of three different PMOs at different levels. So Fortune 500, private equity in a foreign startup itself, and at three different levels, three different size teams, all building from the ground up. I talked to you many times about a lot of the issues and the support and the different things because you've got that background as well. But it was very interesting to build things from the ground up for PMO functions and portfolio management itself. And I brought Smartsheet to every one of those companies themselves. And it was an immediate tool that added value to me for that. So being at the director level, it's surprising how political it can be. And difficult, but rewarding as well.
[00:09:48.150] - PMO Joe
What I found when I first started consulting was having been at that level, and now I'm engaging people at that level, I was more comfortable speaking to them. At first. I'm like, I'm going to go talk to these people. How am I going to talk to them? They're clients now. Right. And then I recognize they're just a pier because I sat in that chair. I knew the challenges they were facing because I had them as well. I'm assuming similar for you?
[00:10:11.650] - Melissa McDonald
Oh, absolutely. I had a requirements call this morning before the show with a company that wants to build a PPM tool with SmartSheet and I'm asking them questions that they aren't even thinking about because they want the tool to build their process while they're building the processes and pulling it all together. And so interesting. And I'm asking them questions that they didn't even think of themselves for that specific information. So it's very helpful.
[00:10:41.910] - PMO Joe
See that's smart.
[00:10:44.130] - Melissa McDonald
[00:10:45.570] - PMO Joe
This is why you're the Smart PM side question on this. Is it's Smartsheet, not Smartsheets.
[00:10:53.830] - Melissa McDonald
[00:10:54.430] - PMO Joe
Because I think every time I've ever talked about that tool with anybody in the world, I called Smartsheets. But when you were introducing it, no S at the end.
[00:11:03.500] - Melissa McDonald
No s at the end. And my daughter pointed that out last week when I gave her the branding guidelines to read because she's my marketing intern.
[00:11:12.660] - PMO Joe
[00:11:13.210] - Melissa McDonald
And so she's like, mom, eliminate anything with an Apostrophe S or an S on Smartsheet. So she's been very helpful.
[00:11:20.820] - PMO Joe
Just Smartsheet. So how did you get to Smartsheet? I mean, there's a thousand PPM tools out there. Why that one?
[00:11:28.680] - Melissa McDonald
I needed something quick when I was at the startup. There's not a lot of money. And after nine months with that startup, they closed the offices, so there was not a lot of money. And I needed something more than Excel, not as difficult as MS Project for that. So I'd heard of Smartsheet and I looked into it, and you can start off small. You don't have to buy a huge program. It's something that at the time was going to be pretty versatile and affordable. I can get the whole company working in that program, but I don't need licenses for everybody. So it was a very economical program at the time. You only need a license for the people that are creating sheets. So if you need to edit, if you need to be shared, if you need to view, you don't need a license. It's just a permissions as a Smartsheet administrator. So it was very affordable at that time.
[00:12:25.290] - PMO Joe
But is it robust? Right? Because it's kind of that thing that circulates every six months or so on LinkedIn. You can either get it fast, you can get it cheaper, or you can get it good. You can get two of the three right. And it sounded like you were able to implement it fast. It sounds like it was affordable, but you got all three. It was good as well.
[00:12:45.350] - Melissa McDonald
It was good. It was very good. I did a lot of exploring and discovering with it at the startup at that time, but then when I went after that, kind of folded and left the States and I went to the Fortune 500 company, I've got this tool. I've already integrated it with SharePoint and Confluence and MS teams. There was a lot of things I could do with it collaboratively. I brought it back to there because they were using Excel, they weren't using anything at the Fortune 500 for Project Management tool. And so I brought that there and over that time frame that I was there, built it and shared it and integrated it and then upgraded it. And so that's where I really started getting into more of the Smartsheet applications and add ons that helped automate it and scale it as well.
[00:13:38.790] - PMO Joe
All right, so we jumped right in real fast on the Smartsheet and everything, but I want to take a step back several years backwards. And I know some of this because we know each other outside of the show, so I know some of the history. As folks know, I'm interested in supporting veterans over the years with VPMA. And part of your career currently, right, has been shaped by your experience in the military as well.
[00:14:07.530] - Melissa McDonald
It has. My husband retired military, so he did his 20 years, and I did my time in the US army as an engineer as well. And even before that, my dad was military, my mother was military, so I was born and raised in the military.
[00:14:25.610] - PMO Joe
So thank you for your service, appreciate it, and your husband as well. And we also found out that one of our prior guests, Candice Porter, who's been on the show, does a fantastic job just north of us in the mountains, colorado, I think it is.
[00:14:39.840] - Melissa McDonald
[00:14:40.320] - PMO Joe
Nevada. You know, Candace, you and Candace went through a program together, v wise. So tell us about that.
[00:14:48.240] - Melissa McDonald
So that was a really great program a couple of years back, the veteran program. And I think it's sponsored by Syracuse University itself at the time, but it was veterans, women, Igniting, I can't remember what the S was, but entrepreneurship and so it was really kind of a mini boot camp for women veterans or spouses of the military that just brought in guest speakers, brought in industry entrepreneurs themselves, and it was just a boot camp. How to get your business plan started, what do you want to do, what is funding looks like? And it was really interesting. It was a weekend they gave you a hotel room. They brought you all together and it ignited something obviously in the name. And that's where I met Candice. There.
[00:15:44.890] - PMO Joe
So smart PM, tremendous experience, served our country, supported our country also as a military spouse, educated in universities and in the military, educated in the use of technology to support industry. So folks, I'm trying to build if you're wondering where the Smart PM name comes from, it's all of these things contributing. It's not just smart, cheap, it's somebody who's been a leader, defending our country and supporting our freedom as a veteran, but also leading multiple PMOs in different types of industries. And then finding a technology solution, which again, is smart to come into a niche to identify a solution that regardless of the type of PMO you have, the solution can come in and fit into that model.
[00:16:34.850] - Melissa McDonald
Well, even more so than just PPM as a PPM tool, Smartsheet, the clients I've been working with the last several months, HR, Marketing, Finance, it's a tool that goes beyond project management as well. So then that's even smarter for me.
[00:16:53.870] - PMO Joe
Yeah, well, we think PPM side of it just because that's our industry. But Melissa is subcontracting through us now, right now on a client we have. And it's really not project management that you're working on with them as well, right? I mean, that's to your point. The way I look at spreadsheet is at least I think the uneducated person on the tool is if you use Excel, there's probably an opportunity that you'd be able to get an advanced version of that in an automated version, more robust version of that through Smartsheet.
[00:17:26.870] - Melissa McDonald
Smartsheet combines Excel PowerPoint, access, SharePoint all in one and MS Project. So take all of those and put it into one tool and you can build your own automations. It's low code, no code type of tool that businesses are moving towards to get away from a static tool that's really hard to integrate and or share and collaborate with, too. Yes, we've got Microsoft 365, but at the same time, it's not as integratable as some of the other tools that are out there.
[00:18:03.670] - PMO Joe
So you said something I hadn't thought about. Of course, this isn't in our agenda, so I'll ask a question, and if you don't know, but in a couple of episodes, we're going to have the folks from PMI on and track via one of their partners in the Citizen Development Program, which is a low code, no code program that PMI has put together to have project managers kind of be able to do things themselves. Are you familiar with Citizen Developer? Has that come up in any of your exploration in the industry?
[00:18:34.430] - Melissa McDonald
I'm not very familiar.
[00:18:36.860] - PMO Joe
All right, so I'll ask them, I'll put that into our agenda with them to talk about that and thinking of a Smartsheet and other tools out there, what is PMI doing to approach organizations like that to be supportive of the program?
[00:18:51.670] - Melissa McDonald
That would be a great question because I know that there are some really big companies out there that are moving away from the end user created tools that are problematic because they're not as collaborative and they want with Smartsheet, you don't need it. And that was the beauty of It. Because I'm the last person from an It perspective. My background. I studied physics. And I'm not a programmer per se. But Smartsheet is easy enough for user interface. For businesses to build their process and their workflows and automations in It without needing an It ticket. Without needing an It department. And without having to wait and implement and configure those big programs that take months to implement.
[00:19:41.650] - PMO Joe
So let me play devil's advocate, and I'm the CIO or director in It, and I say, Wait, you're implementing technology into the business that has to be under the governance of our IT department. You can't go do that without us.
[00:19:55.750] - Melissa McDonald
Yeah, they always worry about the shadow IT in that sense. But depending on the maturity level of the It department itself, you can put governance in place for Smartsheet. You can build your compliance programs within It. You obviously need a Smartsheet administrator, but every department in the company can use it; HR, supply chain. It's versatile enough to be more than a project management tool.
[00:20:23.760] - PMO Joe
Got you. All right, so you're not technology or a coder, as you say, right. But you have a company that helps organizations use this. So how does that happen?
[00:20:37.990] - Melissa McDonald
I pay $50 for my LLC and that's kind of ironic thing. So Smartsheet has a partnership program, and so I had to apply for that. And I did that back in the fall when the whole idea came to me and it was all hinging on that partnership. And I think we had talked about potentially partnering for me to go into my own company. No, let me be legit. Let me get there. And Smartsheet accepted my application to become a partner. And so then they have a whole partner portal and a program to get you more trained, more certified, and provide you the branding and marketing materials themselves. So that really cinched my desire of.
[00:21:26.200] - PMO Joe
What I was doing, which is fantastic that they opened that up to the community to have partners, right? I mean, what an extension of their brand to have other people out there? So tell us about that experience as a partner. Are there levels of partnership, and what does that mean? And if anybody can just hang a shingle and become a partner, is there enough meat there to make it be worthwhile? I mean, help us understand all that.
[00:21:51.200] - Melissa McDonald
So you have to apply, and they have to accept you, and they want to see that you have a company for It. I don't know all the parameters of who makes what the criteria. I'm a Silver partner based off of. I have less than three certified Smartsheet people in my company. It goes. Silver, gold. Platinum, I believe. And it's all based on the number of certified Smartsheet providers there. And so it's based off the numbers. I've partnered with some platinum partners in Smartsheet, and they've got entire It departments that have arms for Smartsheet themselves, and they've got the much bigger clients, the much bigger accounts. Because I think the stat is 90% of Fortune five hundreds are using Smartsheet, 80% of Fortune 500 are using Smartsheet. So there's a lot of companies that are using It that need more support than what their company can provide.
[00:22:56.750] - PMO Joe
And when there's the other part that I think folks want to be able to understand. When did you start The Smart PM?
[00:23:02.560] - Melissa McDonald
When did that start officially? I went into business in February of this year.
[00:23:07.920] - PMO Joe
So February. Let's do our match several months later here. Five months later ish yes. And how's it going?
[00:23:15.470] - Melissa McDonald
[00:23:18.890] - PMO Joe
When you all are watching live or the recording, you'll just see Melissa smiled in the period of time prior to February when she started that business. It had been a long time since I had seen her smile, and there hasn't been a moment since she started her business where she hasn't been not smiling.
[00:23:38.330] - Melissa McDonald
Yes. As soon as I left corporate America, I've heard from everybody, you sound better on phone calls. You sound happier. You just look happier. So, yes, I am. Very much so.
[00:23:54.180] - PMO Joe
That's not necessarily because you didn't like your prior jobs, right? But listen, for those who run PMOs that are listening out there, it's stressful. It is hard. There are a lot of demands on you. You don't have control over several decisions you have to make. It's just a stressful job.
[00:24:12.550] - Melissa McDonald
It is. And the deadlines and the changing priorities, the conflicting priorities, because you're more at the strategic level, you're at the portfolio level. So you're the one that is trying to set up the criteria to put the logic in that decision making to execute on strategy. So you're working with leadership to make sense of everything itself. And it gets pretty complicated.
[00:24:39.770] - PMO Joe
And not to say you don't do that now because you have clients you're trying to support. Right. But it's just different. Isn't it great when it's yours?
[00:24:46.710] - Melissa McDonald
[00:24:46.900] - PMO Joe
You get to own it.
[00:24:48.060] - Melissa McDonald
[00:24:49.190] - PMO Joe
So you had briefly mentioned earlier you have your daughter's working for you. I mean, this is another one of those advantages of owning your own company, and you get to be able to build that company the way you want.
[00:25:02.450] - Melissa McDonald
Yeah. She's going into her final year at University of Georgia in a marketing program. So I said, hey, come intern for me and do the part of the company that I just don't have time for. Because when you're in business for yourself, and I know you know this because you've given me a lot of advice. You're the business developer, the salesman, the doer, the accountant, all of that stuff and the marketer. So she's starting to help.
[00:25:35.150] - PMO Joe
Awesome. So now that you've been doing this for all of five months, you have experience, right? It's not just the pipe dream. With some preliminary observations to share for others who may be right in the same boat that you were in five months, six months a year ago. And they're thinking, man, I'd love to go start my own company. What's kind of the good and the bad of that process that you went through?
[00:25:59.800] - Melissa McDonald
So it's funny you say that because I did talk to somebody very close to me two days ago who they had just resigned and like, I don't know what's going to be next. And they've got a lot of experience. They were with their company for 14 years. And the advice that I gave them was, you've got a little bit of time before you really need to be doing something and bringing money in. And he was stressed out, just utterly stressed out. And so I said, you want to be the person that you needed? Think of it that way. And that's really how I thought of it for me, because I needed a ton of help. And yes, I had PMS and I had some portfolio administrators and different things. But just it's not enough as you're building your program in the PMO because you're doing everything for the company. You're trying to get the company's strategy executed. And so you don't have time to build your processes for the PMO, to build your tools. You just need to function and go. And so there was a lot of things that I wish I had somebody to help and just come in and do this because everyone just got so much on their plate.
[00:27:11.550] - Melissa McDonald
So that's what I told him. You were stressed out for 14 years. What is it that you wish you had had help with? And can you turn that into a business? Can you turn that into consulting or contracting and then reach out to your network who you've worked with for a couple of years? Not that you're going to take business away from anybody, but if you reach out to your network in that field and just say, hey, this is what I think I'm going to do, because I had done that with you. And you're like, yeah, you gave me such great information and great advice, and that helped me decide what my next steps were going to be. So that's the best advice. If you want to do something for yourself, figure out how you can help yourself in the way that you didn't have it.
[00:28:01.430] - PMO Joe
And what I love about that story it just told us is the fact that you're now giving to others who were in your position, right? So a lot of people, same thing, they'll come to me and say, why do you help people? Aren't you afraid they're going to take something away from you? And I said no. I mean, I'm getting more than I'm giving when I'm helping somebody. And to see you and hear that story is I think you're finding that same thing now just so early on in your new business.
[00:28:28.270] - Melissa McDonald
Right. And I didn't realize from the name, from the niche, from the partnership with Smartsheet to what I was doing and having clients right off the bat in February, to even having them coming into me and not really having a ton of marketing itself, the networking is amazing. That's really where it's been so helpful is people that you can partner with, people that can share word of mouth. It goes a long way.
[00:29:00.460] - PMO Joe
That's fantastic. So Smart PM, obviously, as you've mentioned, Smartsheet focus from a technology perspective, but services beyond Smartsheet. What else does the Smart PM offer to clients?
[00:29:19.170] - Melissa McDonald
Ironically, I'm doing more Smartsheet than anything else. I thought I would be focused purely on PMO support and augmentation, which is a kind of small niche and specialty in Smartsheet. Everything I've been doing has been smart, Sheet. There's more demand out there for it in large and small ways from the smallest little company. One of my very first jobs that they had reached out to me was for marketing in a company. And it was a tiny little job and I gave them something tiny and then they've continued to reach out to me, well, what about this? And we can do this. And so it continues to grow. Or they'll do something and they just need somebody to answer something. Can you just help me fix this logic or fix a filter that's not working? Because that's all people really need is just a tiny bit of help. And I'm not here to come in and just build everything and run it for you. I'm here to just accelerate. You have Smartsheet with your company? You just don't have enough time to build the tools that you want. So I'll come in and I'll accelerate.
[00:30:31.260] - Melissa McDonald
I'll build you what you want, you can run with it. And then as I'm building it, they're learning that, oh, you just do it this way. I can aggregate reports, here's the dashboard, then they start learning and then they start doing for themselves. So that's really where I'm coming in.
[00:30:50.790] - PMO Joe
Yeah, we have a client out in La right now with the PMO squad, and she had said I didn't know companies like yours existed and I just Googled hoping I'd find something. And we found you. So are you finding anything similar? Like, do companies know? Like, wow, there's actually firms that go help me with this?
[00:31:12.740] - Melissa McDonald
There is, and I've been surprised. I do have an intake form from Smartsheet on my website, and I've gotten some business through that from people just doing searches. A lot of. Business through LinkedIn. That's really the only social media that I'm on is LinkedIn. And I'm like, how did you find me? Well, I'm looking for someone with your background because I don't want just a Smartsheet builder and developer to really understand Smartsheet. So a PMO at a big company had contacted me personally through a LinkedIn messaging, hey, I see you got Smartsheet background. I want to build a PPM tool, but I don't want a developer. I want somebody who used it, built it, and actually used it to understand the process of what goes into it. And that's what makes Smartsheet that much better, because you have to understand the business process when you're building it, because you're building it into the automations. So it's not just I need a task orientation, I need a date, and I need a percent complete. You build it with that business process in mind.
[00:32:24.290] - PMO Joe
Earlier, you had mentioned really most of your engagements, if not all of them, haven't been for PMOs directly rates been other parts of the business. Again, without giving any details, I'm sure you got NDA's in place with your clients, but what are those scenarios? Because other people listening maybe like, oh, I didn't even think about that. Right. So what are some of those situations or scenarios that you've helped organizations with?
[00:32:49.130] - Melissa McDonald
So I just went through an HR performance Goal merit increase program for an entire company. They just did it two weeks ago, and we built a whole program in Smartsheet to do it. They did it in Excel last year. We did it in Smartsheet. And some of the comments when we were building it was, whatever we can do to not repeat last year. I've been in business, this business for 24 years, and last year's was the worst experience I ever had for going through that program. They don't want to go out and get an HR program and spend a ton of money on it. So they had Smartsheet, they brought me in, I helped design the program and the dashboards and the forms and the automation itself, and we just finished the entire company's merit raises in Smartsheet.
[00:33:42.010] - PMO Joe
Did they give you an increase because of that? No, unfortunately not.
[00:33:46.410] - Melissa McDonald
No. But they want to use that again next year. They're saying, okay, these are the things we're going to change for next year so that we can get that one lined back up.
[00:33:54.770] - PMO Joe
As you were saying that, it made me think back to the other story you mentioned, as well as your first client, a small one that's come back to you. Another piece of advice maybe for people starting out in business is you don't need to hit a home run on your first one, right? If you get a single use in baseball terms here, right, and get a referral back, all of a sudden, a single can become a double, and then you have good news. Right? You have success stories you can share with other prospects, right?
[00:34:20.920] - Melissa McDonald
Correct. Absolutely. I just haven't tapped into that yet.
[00:34:24.290] - PMO Joe
It sounds like you haven't had to yet.
[00:34:26.460] - Melissa McDonald
Well, no, I mean, I definitely want to reach out. That's what I've tasked my daughter with and figure out how to get the customer feedback from what we've been doing the last several months. So I finally have someone to delegate to for that.
[00:34:41.690] - PMO Joe
All right, so you're five months in, still learning probably all the intricacies of being a business owner. But have you used your PM skills and background to say, hey, what's my roadmap look like? How do I go forward? How has being a PM and PMO leader helped you be a business owner?
[00:35:03.710] - Melissa McDonald
Detail orientation. You really need to think about the accounting piece of it, the accounts payable and receivable and the different things that are going back and forth. But you also need to prioritize and you need to have your portfolio management for what the work is you're doing. Communication management, stakeholder management, all the different areas within project management where you've had those tools or that practice, those skills that you need to tap into. And then while you're managing the work, the requirements gathering. So I'm doing the work, I'm earning and gaining the work, but then doing the work itself. So the work you need to have those tools in place as well. And so I've used my project management skills in all of life vacation planning training, as you had done just recently to me, project and I think that's what I love about project management is it fits my orderliness and organization just so naturally.
[00:36:15.360] - PMO Joe
Yeah. All right, so yourself, your daughter, are there others? If I'm a big company, I'm afraid oh, man. If I go with you, are you going to be big enough to be able to support me? How do you ensure that you can support clients big and small?
[00:36:31.370] - Melissa McDonald
So I am partnered and have great relationships with larger platinum partners, specifically aptude. They're a platinum partner and provide great service to really large corporations that are already using Smartsheet themselves. I also have the backing as a partner with Smartsheet that I told them, hey, I need somebody for that call in Columbia that I mentioned earlier. I need somebody to speak Spanish better than I do too. And so they came alongside me. They provided me one of the sales management people and they helped me. They led that call with Columbia and Spanish for me. So I have Smartsheet to partner with as well. And then the Aptitude and then project management on your side with you, with the PMO squad.
[00:37:30.810] - PMO Joe
Well, we're glad to be in that equation. In the small part, I mean, it's fantastic. And I think that's another piece of advice I would give to other consultants out there or people starting up their own business is you don't have to go and do it on your own. People who you think might be competitors may be your biggest cheerleaders, and you won't know that until you reach out and talk to people. There's just a lot of people rooting for us within our industry. And when you just ask for help, a lot of people just say, it would be great to help. I mean, there's a lot of people who've faced that same struggle. They know what the beginning of a new company looks like, and they want to make sure that enough other people get there.
[00:38:17.030] - Melissa McDonald
I found it to be so different in my stereotype of what business is. It's so competitive, and people are going against each other, and I haven't found that to be I haven't found that at all. In your experience from the PMO company and consulting, I mean, what has your experience been?
[00:38:38.070] - PMO Joe
It's the same, right? I've had what you people may think to be competitors reach out and give us leads. Your company can handle a certain amount of work, and then what do I do with the rest? Do I tell somebody? No. Or do I make myself look good by saying, I have a partner that I can refer you to that you have trust in and confidence? And the other way I'd look at this in a nonprofit management term is we think how many Burger King, McDonald's, and Wendy's are out there? If they were all McDonald's, they would probably not have the same sort of loyalty from their customer base, because it's only choice. We want to have an industry that has variety, because guess what? If it's Smartsheet, I don't offer that, but I have a great partner who does, and I can go help you in your business doing that. So I think for all of the PM consultants that are out there, we find a way to leverage one of them. That's why I started the PMO leader. The PMO leader is that community where consultants, technology firms, trainers, authors, podcasters, people just seeking knowledge have a safe community to go and work together to be able to improve our industry.
[00:39:54.100] - PMO Joe
Because ultimately, we all win if our industry delivers projects better. If we continue to deliver projects with a 55% to 60% success rate, our industry doesn't look good if we can all work together to get that up to 90% success. Man, project management is in a whole better light at that point.
[00:40:13.400] - Melissa McDonald
But I also think and I know you've had other discussions about this project management success doesn't just hinge on project management. There's a whole company leadership involved with all of that as well. Sponsors?
[00:40:28.050] - PMO Joe
Yeah. PMO squad actually just put out a blog post I think it was yesterday. And we call it an organizational alignment. Like, if you went to a chiropractor to align your back, when it gets out, you need an adjustment. Well, sometimes operations takes up too much of the space from what projects need, and an organization needs to go in and get adjusted. They need to remember, hey, that project that you did allowed you to get those sales. It wasn't just operations. So good read for everybody if you're interested in that sort of stuff, but absolutely. Project management is an organizational item. It's not just the people in the project department that need to do that. So are you happy that you started your own company?
[00:41:15.620] - Melissa McDonald
I'm very happy. It was the right time, and had I done it any earlier, I wouldn't have found a niche. I just would have started off mine. It just all really came together in such the right combination for me at.
[00:41:30.860] - PMO Joe
The right time and what's kind of the future if you've had your crystal ball out, maybe next year we talk to you again and we say, hey, remember last year when you predicted the following? How well did it go?
[00:41:45.970] - Melissa McDonald
Well, you would give me very good advice early on. Content is king. So at some point in the future, depending on if I can grow, I'm not comfortable enough other than my daughter as an intern to hire her. I'm not comfortable enough with business to hire people on in a full time role yet. I don't want to take them away from another job and not know what's happening with the market right now, the recession. I really don't know what to expect from a business perspective on what's coming in or not coming in with our market conditions right now. So I'm going to play through this market and see what happens with everything. But long goals, I would love to bring on, maybe become a Gold partner, bring on a few more people in that sense and continue what I'm doing, or partner with bigger companies that have more than Smartsheet. Not just your Smartsheet arm, but your Asana arm or your different tools themselves. But right now I'm just busy enough that I'm really not thinking that far ahead.
[00:42:59.830] - PMO Joe
So if there's somebody in Kalamazoo or Zimbabwe or Britain or wherever they may be located nigeria, somebody's listening in from Nigeria, we saw that on here and they're like, man, I'd love to know more about Smartsheet and Smart PM and maybe this is right for my organization. How do they connect with you to do that?
[00:43:25.250] - Melissa McDonald
So you can go to Htpbsthesmartpm Pro. I'm also on LinkedIn for the SmartPM on LinkedIn or Melissa McDonald on LinkedIn themselves. I also am on Smartsheet. If you're looking for a partner, they've got a little partner portal and you can see all the different partners throughout the world on Smart Sheets side as well, and you get information there and I'll be on their partner portal under Silver.
[00:44:01.330] - PMO Joe
Again. You're still new at this and you're still learning. Heck, I'm ten years in, I'm still learning and learn probably every day, every week, every month. Something I hadn't thought of, but what would be advice to people who are kind of on the fence. Should I go out? I've got that itch, I've got that desire. Should I go out and start something.
[00:44:22.480] - Melissa McDonald
Or should I for themselves or for.
[00:44:25.210] - PMO Joe
Smartsheet for themselves as a new business owner? Right?
[00:44:29.110] - Melissa McDonald
I would say started as a side hustle because I was planning this in the fall, in the October where it really started to come together and I wanted to bring it together. Let me build my website, let me get a few things in place first. And I was still relying on my full time corporate job role at that time. And then something just hit. And I didn't really say, I'm going to start by this date. It just happened. I went into work one day, I'm like, no, I'm doing my own thing. But I was prepared for that. I had four months to build up what's my business plan look like, where's my marketing need to go? Where am I going to find my first client? So I had a lot of that lined up in itself. And I was going to start with just doing a little bit at a time on that and then transition off of my full time role. And I just went all cold turkey. I was like, I'm just done. And I just one day finished with my full time job and that next Monday I was in business. So I would say start with a side hustle and see if you can start building it slowly and have something there that you're ready to do immediately.
[00:45:51.120] - Melissa McDonald
And start small if you're a little worried about everything.
[00:45:56.870] - PMO Joe
And I think great advice you gave earlier as well. Find a niche of something that you wish you had when you were in your role. And know if you're good at that, then that's a potential business because you're not the only one in the world who could have used that help. Correct and find a way to make that be a business for you.
[00:46:17.400] - Melissa McDonald
Well, and also just think about it. And this is what I have to tell myself over and over again. PMOs start and stop all the time. And when the new ones are starting up, they need just as much help. And I've been in PMOs and I was let go from PMOs that they're starting the new process all over again and then they don't like this new leadership comes around, they're going to scrap that even in the same company, PMOs rise and fall and are trying to reinvent themselves. But even outside of PMOs, Smart PM, I can help HR, I can help finance, I can help marketing. The tool is helpful. And even if you want to start off with Smartsheet on your own, you don't even need somebody to come in. Smartsheet is a great tool for you to learn and build on your own. And it's adaptable. It's very user friendly.
[00:47:09.410] - PMO Joe
So we'll put you on the spot as your time with the PMO leader. When you were running PMOs, what were some of the key lessons learned from those experiences to share with people who are in that? Because, listen, I was a frustrated PMO director and decided time to leave and go on my own. I've heard several people tell these stories. The things you learned that forced you to leave and then the things that you learned that helped you stay as long as you did.
[00:47:40.550] - Melissa McDonald
The things that helped me stay as long as I did was my team. I had great project managers, great just support within my team. And then also the teams. We supported the product teams because I was an It PMO director, the teams made me stay longer than I probably wanted to or should have to that extent. What frustrated me most was the corporate let's do everything, we have to do everything, and the unwillingness to say no and to make a priority and to keep a priority, the constantly changing priorities, the constantly you can do 20 things. We had done annual planning and we decided, here's our top 80 projects for the next year. By the time within a month, we are up to 200. And so at some point it's like, when are we going to say no, we can't do everything. And so it's frustrating.
[00:48:41.240] - PMO Joe
Yes, if you plan to do everything, you accomplish nothing.
[00:48:43.830] - Melissa McDonald
[00:48:44.870] - PMO Joe
All right, well, fantastic. I mean, this has been a great pleasure for me to, one, have somebody in studio, two, have it be a friend of mine, and three, have it be somebody so knowledgeable to be able to share with everybody how smart you are to have started the smart PM. Any last thoughts that you want to share with everybody before we say goodbye? And how can folks get in touch with you? You already mentioned it earlier, but we'll give a repeat on that.
[00:49:13.660] - Melissa McDonald
So yeah, just https backslash the SmartPM Pro or the smart PM on LinkedIn on there. And my only piece of advice is if you really wanted to go out on your own, just think about the things that you wanted the most for support in the job and the role you were in but didn't have and see if you can do something about that.
[00:49:39.650] - PMO Joe
Yeah, well, again, thanks, Melissa, for being here. I really appreciate it. And I also want to thank you for what you've given back to the industry, right, in your time. Leading PMOs, implementing Smart sheets as a partner with the PMO squad, helping others, giving advice back to the community, being an active partner in the PMO Leader global community. Smartsheet can also be I mean, smart PM can also be found out in the consulting section on the PMO leader community site. We're all connected, right? And to have somebody like yourself come into the private ownership business ownership section and still be a valued contributor to the industry. I think it's fantastic. So thank you for everything you're doing for our industry. I really appreciate it.
[00:50:29.310] - Melissa McDonald
Well, thank you for your support. You've made a huge contribution. Such help.
[00:50:34.780] - PMO Joe
Glad I could help. Well, I certainly want to thank our listeners as well. As I say, every show, if we don't have listeners, we don't have a show. Right? Because we only keep doing this because you keep listening and you keep telling us what you want to hear. Be sure to go out to the PMO Squad website and check out the Office Hours link to be able to capture all the shows, see all of our upcoming guests. Remember that you can get a PDU for each one of the shows that you watch. Go out and do yourself reporting. And certainly our guest list coming up is fantastic. We have Mate Sivira, we have Track Via and PMI, as I mentioned from Citizen Developer, they're going to come on and talk about that keyed in. One of the larger PPM is going to be coming in. We're going to talk to them. Dr. Robert Joslyn, Chris Brigg with PMO Global Alliance is going to come on and talk about their healthcare initiative they've got underway, Sanjeev Augustine and others. So we're super excited about the rest of the year. And a reminder, although we're live now, we record these.
[00:51:36.320] - PMO Joe
So everybody who missed it today, shame on you. You should be watching live, but if not, you can subscribe on your favorite podcast platform, the Project Management Office Hours. And of course, thank you to our sponsors, the PMO Squad and the PMO Leader. Make sure on the PMO Leader community you go out and check out all of our recurring webinar series. We have books and beyond where we talk to some of the favorite authors in the project management space and get to learn more about the book and the author. Spotlights on thriving services. There's a show this afternoon. We're going to be 05:00 Eastern. Our host will be talking with the Agile Management Office Organization out of Australia. So go out and check everything on those two communities. It's it for now. Office Hours are closed. Until next time. PMO. Joe and you've been listening to Project Management office hours.
[00:52:33.110] - Announcer
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