Jul 4, 2011

Establishing PMO – First Things First

Your organization has made this executive decision that PMO (Project Management Office) needs to be established in organization and you are leading (or contributing to) this whole activity. Well, first of all congratulations! Establishment of a PMO is one of the most interesting (yet challenging) jobs any project management professional would like to do, it really make your CV sparkle – but that is just one thing - in envisioning, planning and implementing PMO, you get such flavors of project management, will get to encounter and resolve issues with the different kinds of project processes, will get exposure to numerous tools, templates and techniques, will meet rewarding challenges that the experience will give you such deep practical knowledge in project management that probably dozens of books and years of project management will eventually lead you to.

Rewarding it is, establishing a PMO is challenging as well. You got to plan and implement this very carefully because this is going to affect many and many projects in future to come. Your organization’s success in future projects will largely depend on the usefulness of PMO. Therefore this should be planned very carefully, meticulously and then implemented religiously. Following is a things-to-do on establishing a PMO – some of the points mentioned are just ideas which help you in leading the whole process while other are more practical steps in planning and implementing the whole new PMO:

1. First thing: ‘Establishing of a PMO’ should itself be considered as a project and should be executed in a very fashion you lead any project. There will be a project charter, project planning documents (schedule, cost, scope, requirements, risks, human resources etc.) and other relevant documents and this whole process of implementing a PMO will go through normal project lifecycle: initiation, planning, execution, monitoring and controlling and final closure.
2. Identify type of PMO: This is essential. Typically an organization starts with a ‘Supportive PMO’ so that team get trained, projects become more aligned to the suggested methodology, defined metrics and templates start getting used etc – and then PMO can be elevated to ‘Controlling PMO’ or ‘Directive PMO’.
3. Understand Organization: Analysis is the core part of PMO planning. You need to go through documentations of each project that is running currently in your organization, meet project teams and understand how they work, understand client requirements, understand the culture of organization so that your suggest PMO can find its place easily within etc. The more you know and understand the organization, workflows, processes and who projects are managed; better your position will be in envisioning and planning a good PMO for your organization.
4. Create PMO Charter. As we discussed earlier, establishment of a PMO should be considered a project itself and therefore first document that you should develop and get it signed off by organization’s executive decision making body is the PMO charter. It should have objective of PMO, type of PMO, budget, timeline, risks etc. mentioned.
5. Plan PMO deployment: Specifically;

  • Plan what resources you need to implement a PMO. The strength, capabilities and responsibilities of a PMO team needs to be established
  • Identify phases of PMO deployment. Perhaps you will start with publishing templates and best practices, then start trainings, publish metrics, start reviews and so on. Each phase should have specific start and end dates specified.
  • Identify project management software. Essentially this software will be used to store data of all the projects and give unified view to the health, historical data, schedule, scope and to other vital artifacts of all the projects.
6. Gather all the organization process assets and historical project data. Go through them, identify flaws, mistakes and inconsistencies. Then with the help of this, start documenting new templates, metrics, and best practices. Remember you cannot import somebody else’s templates and other documents and implement in your organization. Every organization is unique and therefore you have to take into consideration workflows, culture, PMO objectives and accordingly tailor these documents for your organization.
7. Communicate and Integrate. You need to communicate with project managers (particularly), team members and even with clients. Keep clients informed on how you are implementing a PMO to provide them better project outcomes in the end, talk to team members to see what problems they face and how PMO can help in that. Particularly talk to project managers all the time. You might face some resistance, respect that. Win the respect of your organization that is the only way you would be able to deploy a good, useful and result-oriented PMO.
8. Execute phase-wide plan of PMO deployment.

PMO implementation is one of the most important decisions that organizations make with far-reaching consequences. The key is to gaining respect of the teams, understanding the organization and processes, envisioning a PMO that really helps in taking project success graph higher, rigorously implementing PMO deployment plans, training the team, respecting the opposition and taking team into confidence on PMO objectives – and having executive buy-in with you all the time.

Good luck!

Photo Credit: ell brown


Simon said...

Hi Ali

You are absolutely right, setting up a PMO should be treated as a project. If not it is the ironical situation that the PMO tells everyone what to do but then does not follow it's own guidance.


Ali Khan said...

Hey Simon,

Thanks for your comments and feedback on thoughts.

Keep visiting, you are most welcome :)