PMO Directors Series

PMO Directors Series: Functional Managers (yes, PMO Director, you are a Functional Manager)

I’ve usually seen one of two models for software development:

  • Model 1 – Project-based work where the project manager has full “command-and-control” and tells project team members what to do; or,
  • Model 2 – Organizations that run product development in a true assembly line fashion, where each assembly step has a “head” who tells those on each part of the line what to do.

However, let me take a step back – I describe a Functional Manager as someone who is responsible for a function in an organization. For example, the engineering function and the head of Engineering. This person is responsible for their team and the services that that team provides, ensuring that they are meeting the organization’s needs. These include the engineering practice, principles, coding standards and quality, recruiting, hiring/firing, ongoing training, personnel development, coaching, mentoring, etc.

Functional Managers who work in Model #1 will most likely not have too much issue with converting to the product-based model because they are accustomed to someone else telling their team members what to do (and their team members are comfortable working on the project team autonomously without their direction).

Functional Managers who work in Model #2 will likely have a tougher time transitioning to a product-based team model because they may equate some of their value (and ego) in telling team members what to do.

In product-based teams, Functional Managers move to be a Servant Leader not only for their team members but also the organization as a whole. Functional Managers are there to support team members and the work. It’s no longer top-down (it wasn’t only the project managers who were commanding and controlling in a project-based structure, Functional Managers were also taking a command and control approach). The team has the autonomy and authority to make decisions and no longer need to “run things up the chain” as long as the decisions and work are within the principles and guidelines (mentioned in a previous post – Other Activities to Support the Transition to Product-Based Teams).

As a PMO Director, while you’ll still have some views on prioritization and solutions, keep an open mind and be comfortable with being challenged. Focus your energies on creating a rock star project management team and working with other leaders across the organization to enable product delivery. There is also program and/or portfolio management that you’ll need to continue to do because these changes are at the team level, and there are accompanying changes at the program and portfolio levels because you are keeping track/managing the investment mix. More on that later.

For you and others, there may be a benefit in some professional coaching to help you with the everyday tactics and help establish new habits and ways of working.

For those of you who have made this shift, any tips/suggestions?

Previous: Other activities to support the transition   Next: The Project Manager Role

Shortcut: All PMO Directors Series Posts

3 comments on “PMO Directors Series: Functional Managers (yes, PMO Director, you are a Functional Manager)

  1. Pingback: Intro to the PMO Directors Series – Joanna Vahlsing, PMP

  2. Pingback: PMO Directors Series: Other Activities to Support the Transition to Product-Based Teams – Joanna Vahlsing, PMP

  3. Pingback: PMO Directors Series: The Project Manager Role – Joanna Vahlsing, PMP

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