Our company is facing a challenge regarding the project management organisation. We already have our own working group on this topic but I'd like to get some external opinions in. It's a very specific case.

First I need to provide background information on our company and current project management organisation:

We're a professional services company with focus on software engineering which operates in heavily matrix- & remote-organised projects but with an underlying organisation that supports employees in execution of the projects. Roughly 600 people of which 70 are active as project manager. The revenues streams are generated within client portfolios. A client portfolio manager has the responsibility on several projects with his clients. The project managers are managing these projects and are together with the client portfolio manager fully accountable / responsible. The project manager is the glue with the remaining organisation and gets via a centralised staffing-unit all experts from other disciplines on his projects to conduct a project, e.g. visual designer, programmers, consultants, UX experts.

Some details on how our project managers are organised:

We had a company-wide reorganisation 4 years ago and are on a continuous journey to develop us further. Our culture is very open and most of the organisational changes are initiated & happening bottom-up. The main outcome from the reorganisation back then for the "Project management department" was to introduce a so called "Project Management Cluster". Basically a pool of project managers. This cluster was further split up in to Skill Groups:

  • Traditional Project Management
  • Agile Project Management
  • Programm Management

Every project manager in the cluster had to be in at least one of the skill groups. The skill groups are the professional home for a project manager and identify usually the skill focus and expertise of an employee. The skill groups are mainly responsible for exchange and creating new standards. Also topic specific trainings and onboarding of new project managers is conducted mainly in these skill groups (e.g. Agile Management conducts Scrum Master trainings).

Current challenge:

We saw the significance of introducing agile standards back then and with creation of a dedicated skill group to agile topics we made fast progress. There were project managers active in multiple skill groups to share knowledge but mainly the skill groups were silos.

Then a market effect hit us in the past 1 - 2 years: Currently 80% of the projects are done agile thus the other skill groups became less significant and we had lots of project managers that adopted the agile skills in the agile management skill groups by joining trainings, doing exchange, collaboration on creation of new standards.

We're now in a situation where the initially created specialised silos with these skill groups are getting more and more together and there is a spillover of many "traditional project managers" in the agile management skill group. On the other hand there are also "agile only project managers" that are lacking knowledge of traditional conducted projects since we have no demand in doing these projects from the market.

Aspects to take into consideration:

  • our company is still growing and I expect to have the Project manager count in 5 years at around 100 people
  • we'd like to be as effective and efficient as possible but understand that because of the size there must be an underlying standard & structure. A discussion some years ago was to form a project management office that supports the "front facing" project managers in their daily work
  • we'd like to standardise trainings in the cluster, basically a training offer independent from the skill groups setup but are unsure who & how will conduct these trainings (an idea was to have a dedicated sub-structure: "PM training center")
  • culture-wise we'd like to come close together again and gather the project managers in more global events / conferences for exchange

As highlighted it's a very specific situation. Do you know of best practices or success stories that can help us?

Thank you very much.

  • To summarise: Should you train all your PMs (groups #1 and #3) in Agile and then group them (#1, #2, and #3) with some other criteria? Is that correct? – Danny Schoemann Jan 14 at 13:02
  • Training is a big challenge in our organisation with that many people on different seniority levels. Currently the skill group "agile management" (#2) is creating and conducting Scrum Master or Product owner trainings. On the other hand the "traditional Project Management" skill group is responsible for conducting "PM basics" (according to the IPMA standard). We made up some ideas around a "Center of Excellence" or "PM Boot camp", like a fixed team in the PM cluster that will be responsible for standards & trainings for the whole PM group. – Andre Meier Jan 14 at 13:37

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