Small PMO steps for success

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Most PMOs either fail to be fully implemented or get reconfigured after 1 or 2 years (Hobbs PMO whitepaper). In a changing/dynamic environment, companies want to see results fast, and would not want to invest long terms in a new PMO unless value is clear.

If you are starting or reconfiguring a PMO, think small and focus on some real value deliverable. Ask PMs and senior managers what is their top issue. Is it a set of standard templates? Assistance with planning and scheduling? Need to have visibility of projects progress and deviations? Be clear and specific, agree deliverables with the PMs/management, and commit to deliver something specific (templates, training session, dashbaord tool, etc) in a short timeframe (3 to 6 months max)

Once people see the PMO actually addressing their needs and meeting their commitments, the PMO will be perceived as something of value and worth of further investment. Small incremental steps reduce the risk of failure when implementing PMOs.

PM Basics | Strategy Support

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In my previous post I explained a basic PMO model based on a central intranet site with info on the project methodology, templates for phase deliverables (Requirements doc, etc), and some templates for Risk&Issues, Status Report, Budget and Schedule.

In this post I look into a simple model of PMO to support senior management at the strategic level. Strategy support can be understood as the layer over individual projects, comprising the projects but importantly also the decision-making on what projects to start, continue or stop; and priorities. Strategic Project Management is Governance, Program Management, Portfolio Management.

The main PMO tool at this level is the Projects/Portfolio Dashboard. This is a high level view of projects focusing on the details and criteria that is relevant to answer questions such as do I get ROI from this project? or is it aligned to my strategic objectives?

The PMO can faciliate senior management in the translation of business strategic objectives into programs. Programs are a set of projects related in producing a particular outcome. If business strategy is to grow market share then a program may help sales team with faster customer data, quotes, etc. If business strategy is to lower costs, a program may try to simplify supplier chain, etc.

PMO attention is now on monitoring and controlling projects progress and deviations. Dashboards give this high level view grouping of projects in programs or portfolios. PMOs can also assist in project selection and prioritization using a set criteria depending on the strategic objectives (ROI, risk minimization, market share, etc) and the company capabilities (what we know and can do).  Normally we have a mix of projects that represent low risk and we know we can dof (low hanging fruit), plus projects that maximise return or chosen metric.

What is PMO ?

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Different PMO books and web sites give different PMO definitions and responsibilities. Because there isn’t a universal PMO model.

People may talk about PMOs based on what they have seen at their company, or some best case example. But each organization is different, and one cannot always re-use the same model in a different environment and context.

But the basics are that organizations want to improve project performance (Truth is that projects generally underperform – late deliverables, cost overrun, don’t meet expectations). If projects by definition are bounded by their particular or unique objectives, scope, resources and timeframe, can they be run as isolated isles of effort, or should projects be coordinated amongst themselves within the same company? How does each project relate to the host organization? How do projects share the common and limited resources in the organization? How do projects and the organization manage conflicts or differences between the projects?

The need for a project management order and understanding, a coordination or standardization of the project management approach within the organization, is what defines the Project Management Office (PMO).


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