PM Basics | Projects Support

Project Management Office Comments Off

I wanted to write two posts to explain two types of PMOs: 1) The start-up basic project support PMO, for when we’re starting to do project management and we don’t know how; And 2) the PMO focused at strategic level (portfolio, etc) -.

I think this is a nice simplification of what PMOs can do.

So, let’s see, we are starting to work on projects, or so we think as we have to do some work for customers, we have deadlines and money to spend, but haven’t done project management before… Typical things that we may need are:

  • Set up an intranet site or sharepoint site as the repository of PM docs and info
  • One page to explain the methodology: e.g. Waterfall model such as Requirements, Design, Build, Test, Release; and Gates Review with Signoff process.
  • Standard Templates to document phases’ deliverables (Requirements doc template, Design doc template, etc)
  • Standard Templates for Status Reports, Risks and Issues Log, Budget, Project schedule (standard set of milestones)

With all the above we have achieved that all projects will follow a similar plan and development path. Projects will be planned and thought before we start programming or building. The main PM artifacts (budget, schedule, risks&issues, status report) are a minimum that helps the project to be internally controlled, but also allows to compare vs other projects.

A Lite PMO would be responsible to create the site, the docs and templates, and support PMs in following the set methodology. The PMO could be just one experienced PM, not even necesarily at full time.

However, this is a very simple start. Good project management requires more than just templates. The PMO could also support in any other areas where gaps may exist: e.g. Defining project scope/requirements; Getting good estimates;  Ensuring good comms among team members and externally with stakeholders (meeting agendas and minutes), etc

Design PMO to meet real needs

Project Management Office Comments Off

I suggest this 3 step approach when setting up a new PMO or developing an existing one:

  1. What is the starting point? Find out about the context, i.e. Organizational structure and culture; and PM maturity (use any maturity model)
  2. What are the expectations? Ask people (PMs, functional managers, execs, etc) what help they need, what are the challenges they face when running projects, what would they like to see changing/improving. Do interviews or surveys.
  3. Focus on real needs and balance. Create a plan to design a PMO that focuses on what is has been asked, not what books or theory say. Is it PM training? A resource management tool? Help facilitating risk management? Monitoring project progress? Ensure PMO responsibilities fit with the available tools, skillsets, processes and structure -or adjust for balance. Will the PMO role fit well in the org culture (the way we do things here) and structure (functional, matrix,centralized, decentralized)?

The major reason that PMOs are shortlived or fail is because they don’t fit in the organization’s context, are too ambitious, impose changes that not all people agree with and lack management support. It is key to start focusing on few but true needs -what people see of value to them, e.g some templates, tools, etc-, with realistic objectives and metrics, and show the delivered benefits asap, so  to position the PMO as delivering Value to the company.


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