PPM without Getting Fired? Step 4: Find a Bad Cop


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I am constantly giving WorkOtter demos based on features people want in their resource and project management software.  More often than not the implementation is botched, the wrong tool is selected, training is ignored, the process is non-existent (or stifling), and just like the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland – it is "off with their heads!"

It doesn't have to be that way.  In my 16 years working with successful PMOs I’ve learned there are ways to implement a resource and project management solution and make sure you not only keep your job, but advance.

Let's review the lessons learned so far in our series:

Now you are ready to start implementation.  Your CIO is behind your implementation, your peers are ready, but you quickly uncover the honeymoon is over when it comes time for people to give up their spreadsheets, personalized processes, and experts.  Your PPM implementation is only as good as "all of us" and it can be hard to be the one that has to whip managers (and their staff) into shape!

Or does it have to be?

Step 4) Find a "Bad Cop"

In police movies they try to get a confession out of the suspect.  It always works the same way.  The Good Cop comes in and offers the suspect water and a smoke and nicely explains how a confession will end all this trouble and help others.  Then the Bad Cop storms in and roughs the suspect up, tells them all the horrible things that are going to happen to them in jail, and how badly they want to put them away.

Sometimes Good Cop and Bad Cop even struggle to get along with each other before finally leaving to go grab coffee together and catch up.

Your PMO needs the same strategy and your boss can help facilitate it.

When you go to meet with the head of a troublesome organization, be the Good Cop and explain the many benefits of PPM participation:

  • Impact decisions: Early and full adopters have more influence to shape the roll-out
  • Better reporting:  Home grown solutions are rigid and fragile
  • Less administration: projects are set-up correctly and you don't spend days re-keying everything
  • Improved collaboration:  Everyone can share, message, and work off the same real time information
  • Demonstrate leadership:  Show everyone you are willing to adapt to change that benefits the organization and allows for growth

Your ability to be seen as friendly, helpful, and aligned are key components to being taken seriously and gaining their cooperation.

When this approach doesn’t work it’s time for the Bad Cop!

The Bad Cop (typically the head of the division or another influential stakeholder to the PPM implementation) can swoop in and point out:

  • Financial impacts:  The extra time and costs of not using the same system and process creates waste that can be quantified
  • Transparency:  Implies that not being open shows that there is something to hide and a lack of accountability
  • Obstruction:  They are subverting the greater good of the overall organization
  • Stagnate:  Organizations that refuse standards never iterate better process and solutions.

Knowing you have a Bad Cop (with authority) who is willing to stand up for your PPM implementation is a clear sign to everyone that this implementation is going to be different.  It gives people the courage to be early and vocal adopters themselves so that they can reap the real, and political, benefits of getting behind meaningful change.

Knowing you need a Bad Cop (with authority) throughout the implementation (and beyond) is a clear sign to you that you not only have your management's support privately, but they are willing to go on record publicly so that your team can focus on befriending and educating everyone on the upgraded processes (and tools).

In our next segment we will discuss why you "clear your plate" when it comes to implementing a new PPM system.