A universal project language starts
in the project management office.
BY ABID MUSTAFA
Introducing a corporate-wide project man- agement methodology in organizations with distributed project management offices (PMOs) can be a daunting task. It’s further complicated by the fact that some PMOs are more mature than others. PMO staff members may have diverse
backgrounds and exposure to different work
cultures, along with varied project management qualifications. For example, a global
telecommunications organization might have
a PMO staffed with project managers from
construction and IT. Another PMO might have staff members who hail
from countries in which organizations are just now adopting standardized
project management practices.
Whatever the PMO make-up, getting the project community to speak
the same language is an essential step that needs to happen before teams
embark on new projects. Using a common language minimizes miscom-
munication and helps the team feel cohesive.
Enormous variances in the project management vocabulary give rise
to numerous project dialects, which can hinder the progress of projects.
For instance, PMO staff members have different views on what the first
stage of the project cycle should be called. Is it “definition,” “
identification,” “initiation” or something else? Differing words for a project cycle
may not seem like a huge obstacle, but consider how the lack of consistent
vocabulary and definition could impact a conversation about risks, issues,
assumptions or dependencies.
Leaders charged with standardizing project management practices, such as
those at the enterprise PMO or a center of project excellence, have to think
carefully about how to adopt a single project dialect across distributed PMOs.
One way to accomplish this is to devise training programs that focus
on specific project competencies required by the organization. The training material can be based on standardized approaches such as those found
in A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®
This material is a great starting place to create a single project vocabu-
lary based on the company’s culture, and inte-
grate it with the company’s support processes,
such as finance, procurement, human resources
and other departments.
Abid Mustafa is a director of corporate
programs for Du Telecoms, a telecom
operator in the United Arab Emirates.