Creating a Good PMO – 10 Tips for Success

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Project Management Offices (PMO’s)  are nothing new to the world of project, program and portfolio management. The thing is that we talk about are the various and different types of PMO’s:

  1. Operational PMO are the ones that are used to do the bread and butter stuff and take care of the project methodologies, the reporting and centralised communication
  2. The Tactical or Program focused PMO that is focused on what the business needs to succeed and the structures required to governance, direct and even at time control the program delivery to achieve business success
  3. The Enterprise PMO which is focus on strategic alignment and ensuring that the positioning of the business is in line with both the environment as well as the internal project and program delivery.

At whatever level the PMO exist, it must demonstrate and deliver on what it takes to improve organisational alignment and deliver on your strategic objectives by focusing on doing the right projects and doing them the right way to deliver lasting results.

Any PMO will come up against some fundamental issues that need attention and some of these issues are generally classified under the following heading:

  1. Many projects competing for limited resources
  2. Lack of cross organisational integration
  3. Failure to deliver benefits and value
  4. No strategic alignment

The PMO should equip the organisation to establish, improve and work with a strategic PMO by design, not by default. Overcoming the organisational and politics to create a good strategic PMO there are ten keys to success for deploying the project management culture in an organisation include:

  1. Keep it simple. First and foremost, be realistic and work the basics. If your staff can’t explain why they are doing a particular project and they can’t identify their 60-day plan, focus on helping those areas first.
  2. Communicate. The best idea goes nowhere if you keep it to yourself, surprise everyone at the last minute, and expect it to be accepted and practiced.
  3. Make sure that expectations and goals are shared. Make sure the charter for the project office deployment project is endorsed by all stakeholders. Have a kickoff meeting—a big event—to share the elements of the charter, the goals, and vision of the executive sponsor. Have the sponsor say a few words, focusing on the benefits to be achieved. Keep people informed as you create the project office. Make a big deal out of your successes.
  4. Focus on value. Determine the organisation’s most pressing concern and fix it. Find what hurts the most and focus on it. Talk to key stakeholders at all levels within the organisation.
  5. Support project managers. Often someone who has been a wonderful technician or a proficient business analyst or engineer is placed into the role of project manager with no training, no assistance, no support; then we wonder why they struggle.
  6. Take time to understand the organisational problems from various points of view. Project managers don’t just deal with the executive level or only with their project team members. In order to gain widespread acceptance of the PMO throughout the organisation, the PMO director should take time to learn about the issues and challenges facing all the departments or business units
  7. Conduct pilot tests. No two organisations are the same. There are different organisational cultures, personalities, approaches, techniques, and technologies. This uniqueness requires us to begin implementing a PMO by conducting pilot projects,
  8. Research on project failures tells us that in order to be successful, projects must be broken down into phases or periodic review stages. This applies to any project undertaken in the organisation, not just the project of implementing a Project Management Office.
  9. Involve the right people up front, starting with your executive sponsorship. No matter what you do, with out executive sponsorship, you will fail. Make sure you understand who cares, who will be impacted, and who makes decisions.
  10. Plan. Although it is sometimes painful and may at times appear to be nonproductive, take the time to plan thoroughly up front. The plan will help set expectations and facilitate communications. Establish incremental goals to show progress and results to the organisation.

Now lets begin the journey of the PMO and take it from the operational to the strategic presence within you organisation.

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