Global Project Management Office (PMO) development and implementation requires planning and support to ensure successful implementation
There has been a growth in the Project Management Office (PMO) market and PMOs seem mushrooming everywhere in every organization. The good news is it is about time the PMO function started to take a prominent role within the various industries and among leading organizations. The bad news is that there is an over-reliance on PMOs in some organizations so that if these organizations do not rationalize and optimize soon, or re-visit the needs for these many PMOs, these organization might be up for a surprise from the bureaucracies that they might develop.
Someone recently said, “You need a PMO to run your PMOs, and it is like you can’t have enough of them.” If similar thoughts spread, they can be fatal for the PMO function. There are huge expectations from executives to drive their organization in effective manner, and many leaders think that a PMO can solve all the organization’s project management challenges. Some simple elements and requirements go into creating a PMO that can support creation, maturity, challenges, and direction of this important function.
Requirements for a Successful PMO
As with any project, creating a PMO should be run like an initiating project, where a scope needs to be identified, requirements need to be defined and prioritized, and a comprehensive implementation/ execution plan carrying out the scope and the requirements must be developed. The following is not an exhaustive list of requirements for PMO creation and implementation, but it is what I call “must have” requirements if a PMO to start on the right track and achieve the organization’s objectives for its Project Management Office.
REQ 1: Executive support and continued acceptance is essential. The commitment is demonstrated by allocated funds, identified resources, providing input and feedback on establishing the PMO. In short, shaping the creation of the PMO and partaking in its mandate.
REQ 2: Define a PMO charter of what will this PMO accomplish and achieve; perform risk analysis, identify drivers and success criteria. Confirm the charter, revisit the funding required, and re-visit the approval and commitments of the organization’s executives
REQ 3: Provide the vision and the mission of the PMO (separate documents); include a strategic and tactical plan of how to get there that will include both short and long range goals. This includes identifying a support structure that will link all goals to the strategic and tactical plan.
REQ 4: Identify pain points and focus on people, process, and tools to help remove or mitigate that pain and achieve immediate successes.
REQ 5: Have a plan to understand what will be measured, how (metrics), when, and the action items taken based on the information gathered to improve efficiency and performance.
Elements for a Successful PMO
In identifying the success criteria, any organization can identify the important elements for success, and these are not limited by number or standards. The following is not an exhaustive list of successful elements to building a PMO; it is what I call “must have” elements if a PMO to start on the right track and achieve the organization’s objectives.
* Processes and methodology development
The overall goal of process and methodology is to provide a consistent and standardized road map for project lifecycle and governing policies and procedures required. A PMO’s role is to establish and adopt a standard methodology, which contains all the required templates, guidance, and processes that will allow delivery to be improved by establishing the appropriate measurement criteria for delivery and for process adoption.
* Project management development
The overall goal of project management development is to encourage continued development and improvement in the core skills and competencies of project managers to achieve high performance and a continuing project management career path. A PMO’s role is to build a career path for project and program managers by defining the competence profiles at different levels. Further, the leaders of a PMO should determine how to use the profiles to predict the performance of project and program managers in their annual appraisals.
* Project portfolio management development
The overall goal of portfolio management is to select, prioritize, fund and manage collection of funded initiatives through projects which, when measured collectively, produce maximum benefits to an organization. According to the Project Management Institute, a PMO’s role is to be involved in the organization’s budget cycle from its inception, and work with the organization’s executives to support, approve, validate, and influence the selection of projects based on subjective / objective criteria that allow executives to select, rank, and agree to where their dollars will be spent.
* Portfolio & Project management tools
The overall goal of portfolio and project management tools is to advance the success of methodology and process adoption through the implementation of tools that will allow efficiency improvements to operational and automating functions within the portfolio and project efforts. A PMO’s role in portfolio and project management tools is to define, implement, and coordinate ongoing operation of tools for portfolio, project and resource management. The members of the PMO should provide guidance and on-going training about these tools across all levels of the organization, providing availability of data through dashboards and reports.
Required Steps and Sequence to Establish PMO
* Establish goals and strategic direction
If a new PMO is about to be established, the first steps involve setting goals, direction, drafting a mission and a vision, writing a charter, and finding out what is the executives’ mandate for the new office. What are the short term, long-term goals, etc? If a PMO is about to be revitalized or restructured, similar steps must be followed due to new alignments, different mandate, new expectations and direction. Whether the PMO is a project, a program, or a portfolio depending on the level required and the organization’s need and maturity, the goals, mission and vision, charter, and execution plan are all required elements.
* Prioritize these goals and provide funding
Once the list of objectives “to be established” is detailed and confirmed, it needs to be prioritized. Once all executives agree on the priorities, then establishing the funding is very important for all the phases. Only after prioritization will executives will realize the magnitude of what they are asking and funding can be determined for all the objectives or distributed across the prioritized implementation phases.
* Establish tactical plans to execute on these goals and objectives
This step is one of the most important steps; all the great plans and visioning sessions will be put to the test through execution and carrying out the mandate. This task includes taking the list of prioritized objectives, and determining the execution approach for each objective. Doing so includes verifying funds, confirming resources required, developing an implementation plan to deliver each initiative. Validating that each project maps to the strategic direction is very important in the success of any PMO.
* Celebrate your accomplishments and successes
It is important to celebrate accomplishments and to share it with your leadership, clients/ service areas you deliver to, and with teams that helped delivered on the execution plan and enabled the PMO to reach its goals. It is important to communicate these successes through award meetings, newsletters / websites, sharing experiences, etc.
* Confirm next steps
With the execution plan in place, the PMO leader must confirm direction and validity of what is being delivered with the people funding the existence of the PMO. The PMO leader must have insight to the changes going on within his / her organization and how that may affect the PMO implementation. Additionally, it is important that the PMO leader be aware of any new industry trends/ challenges that could affect PMO implementation positively or negatively. Challenges to sustaining the implementation of a successful Project Management Office (PMO) will be covered in a separate article (Global PMO Implementation article2).
A successful PMO will start with executive support and appropriate funding. A successful PMO will have a charter, mandate, a vision and mission with all the appropriate short term and long term goals. It will have all required requirements and all elements as well as a tracking and monitoring process and tools in place to ensure execution is successfully delivered according to the identified plan. Continued improvement and confirmation of the PMO’s objectives with executives additional important aspects to PMO success.