PMO – Order or chaos? Most of us would prefer a bit of both, but order in most times can be a boon for any project. With many entities coming together, there is also a chance of a scramble that might not be the best way for you to conduct your business or run your projects.
In an organization, there are many projects in work that benefit a way of life. These projects are born out of a need that arises and it is the responsibility of program managers and project managers to be organized in such a manner so as to resolve the issues at hand with ease and simplicity, for everyone to benefit from.
Projects are a subset of a program, and with multiple projects taking place at different times, in succession, all with the view of getting the program closer towards the company’s goals and objectives of progress. To deal with all these things happening at simultaneous times or at different times, project managers and program managers have to be cautious and organize a PMO or Project Management Office. This PMO will be the organizing body that helps in every project undertaken and every program dealt with. In this article, we’ll learn everything you need to know about a PMO.
What is a PMO?
A PMO (Project Management Office) can be perfectly described as a centralized entity within a particular organization that is responsible for setting standards, maintaining discipline, providing a governance body, and enforcing the right set of accountability towards managing and steering projects in a clear, concise, and consistent manner.
Standardization and discipline are important key features that are needed within an organization, which is aiming at executing multiple projects. These projects are undertaken by the organization with a view to change or improve on systems or processes. With a PMO, you might tap on an organizing body that helps you gain advantage of providin
g organizational standards across all the projects and the program undertaken. This would include consistent training provided to the project teams and many project managers handling the project as per the project management standards that you propose.
With an increasing number of projects, a PMO comes in handy as it implements a consistent project management approach. This centralized body of standards and procedures is responsible for the different aspects involved in project management and the methodologies used. They are responsible for each project maintaining a certain level of adherence when it comes to quality, customer care, and quantity.
A PMO can be made up of a group of dedicated individuals to lead and set the standards or even a single person, depending on the program and the scale of the projects. Over time, as businesses grew in size and capability, organizations come to view the need for having this dedicated and concentrated effort to ensure that their systems and processes could withstand and contain the growing demands and expansion.
project management office can be of different types and need to comply with the needs stated by the organization, in its endeavor to make projects adhere to standards and norms. If a PMO is set with a clear objective in mind, with a solid foundation and support from sponsors, and with a perfect approach to the business model, it can be a powerhouse of value creation and project excellence for the company.
Bringing project management onto the forefront is a great idea. You can have standardization and you can even monitor against a set of norms for your project team and other members associated with the project. So, why a PMO? Let’s go through the key benefits mapped out when we use a PMO:
- Delivering a project could never be easier; with predictable consistency and efficiency you can guarantee success
- Establishing a foundation for your company’s initiatives and managing an organizational portfolio at the same time
- Encouraging transparency and efficient financial reporting with a view to encourage leadership
- Aligning business strategy with the investments so as to gauge the level of success
- Improving customer satisfaction and employee productivity to boost business performance
- Implementing standard practices, in accord with the best practices followed worldwide
- Ensuring long-term savings and return on investments (ROIs) for all the training and mentoring
What Makes Up a PMO?
A PMO is basically made up of 3 different and varied components or facets that contribute to the PMO’s effectiveness within the walls of the organizations. These facets are highly inter-dependent on each other and the success of the PMO truly relies on these 3 pillars of strength. These facets are as follows:
Each component is widely different from each other and complements each other in a way so as to bring forth the purpose of the PMO right in front of the business and the management. In this section, we’ll have a look into each of the components and understand them. Once we do, we are up and ready to set and get kick-started with our own very PMO.
Establishing the functional aspect of the PMO is an important initiation that can boost how your PMO turns out to be. The role or scope of the PMO needs to measured and defined within the organization to start off the process. The order is maintained for the entire functional set of the PMO and it needs to adhere to the functional tiers maintained. The next image will give you a gist of what exactly the functional tiers of a PMO are and how the order is maintained and needed for the functional aspect.
By definition, a PMO is a standards setting entity, which is a governance body in order to maintain the delivery management unit, as well as being the strategic support system to the management and the project team members within the organization.
There is progressive order that is maintained by the PMO. Each tier is dependent on the tier outside of it. All these under the microscope of the strategy deployed by the organization.
This forms the qualitative foundation of the PMO and how it affects the elements of a project or organization —People, Process, and systems/tools.
- People – The people within a PMO system are its leadership unit and personnel working towards putting up a fine project in order to achieve the company’s business objective.
- Process – The process is the SOPs based on the disciplines that the PMO manages. Processes should be practical and in-bound with the workflow of the complete organization. Adaptability and scalability and a buy-in from the people within the organization are also the aspects that need to be conformed to while setting up this aspect of the office.
- System/Tools – Tools must be tailor-made as per the availability of resources and the knowledge set of its users. The systems should be designed in such as way so as to encompass the follow elements:
- All the required information in accurate and real-time formats
- Disciplines of the PMO to be set up
- Should have reporting mechanisms to ensure efficient decision-making at all times
The Project Management Office should be set up to address the following quadrants of business management, when it comes to running projects or programs within the organization:
- Communication Management – 360° communication for all partners
- Resource Management – Important for project execution
- Staff Management
- Vendor Management
- Asset Procurement and Management
- Change Management – Tackling issues and resolving risks scenarios with change
- Scope Management
- Risk and Issue Management
- Training and Development Management
- Execution Management – Time and Cost are critical aspects to any business
- Critical Path Management
- Financial Management
Setting Up and Running a PMO
Setting up a PMO isn’t just about finalizing a bunch of criteria and getting the implementation work started. Just like a project implementation, a PMO needs the same level of assessment, analysis, documentation, and planning to get things started. I’ve jotted down the best 6 steps that you will need in order to set up and run a PMO that will address all your needs in a project management scene, with your organization and your projects. Let’s jump right in!
Step 1 – Jotting Down an Assessment
Understanding the inside and out of your requirements and your objective of setting up a PMO is key in setting up and eventually running a PMO. Assessment is the necessity when it comes to setting up a PMO. You would need to go through and measure up the current status of the project management office organization and check for the desired target scenario the company would like to be in.
For the purpose of performing this assessment, I suggest you utilize project management office PMI’s OPM3 (Organizational Project Management Maturity Model) assessment that will help you gauge the level the organization is at against the current state of the PMO residing within it.
This step will look at the functional areas that would be governed and regulated by the PMO and the gaps between your business and the requirement of PMO. Check out the Disciplinary section of this article to know the different quadrants of the business management paradigm. Through careful examination of these areas, the PMO can be placed within the appropriate maturity level.
Step 2 – Listing Down the Recommendations
You’ve now assessed where your project management office organization stands at and where does the PMO have to intervene, your next step is to carefully list recommendations on how to fill in the gaps with process, people, or systems and combinations and permutations of those. These recommendations could include:
- Have gate reviews for better decision-making
- Track the progress of your projects and accordingly make risks known to these project managers
- Have quality assurances rendered to projects to check adherence to project management methodologies that have been set up
- Train, mentor, and coach new project managers in the different project management processes and systems put in place for standardizations
- Collaborate and ensure that all necessary steps and methods are well-documented for reuse
Keep in constant touch with employees working within the organization and ask them for frequent feedback, and you will be able to find out the weaknesses as well as strengths of the processes and systems put up during the execution of each project.
Step 3 – Building an Execution Plan
You have the areas that need permanent fillers, you have the recommendation and the level they are at. Now comes the part where you step in and design an implementation plan to get things kicking off. You have recommendations that are tactical in nature, while some need a more in-depth organizing; they are call strategic recommendations. Get started with the tactical ones and just like projects, maintain the requirements of time, cost, and resources in order to develop an implementation plan.
Get a buy-in from your management team when you propose the execution plan that you have set out to achieve, taking into account all that needs prioritization. Keep in mind also of the strategic view of the company and how it’s placed. Top management loves to see a dedicated and influential manager all ready to walk the mile.
Step 4 – Implementing the Execution Plan
Engines on… foot on the acceleration… map in hand… all there is left to do is release the clutch! Zoom past to a great PMO in front of you! Though it sounds like a cake-walk when you put in a reference to racing cars, but execution of a PMO requires diligence and extreme hard-work, with a tinge of a unique perspective to go and achieve. Head for the tactical plans laid out and gather those “wins” under your wings. With this boost, you are ready to conquer the next mile.
Show up the value the PMO has been holding for you with every win that goes by, and always keep in mind of the objective at hand, while keeping a stern eye towards not deviating from the plan at all. The PMO needs to help people with their projects in a way so as to conform to the company’s standard. With these short wins, you can establish confidence of the many things a PMO can turn into.
Step 5 – Communicating the Update in Frequent Intervals
Communication is an extraordinary factor in our lives that makes transfers of knowledge and information so very convenient, if utilized effectively. In the case of setting up and validating the moves of a PMO, communication is a crucial component to its success and its meaningful implementation. For a PMO to last, the communication framework needs to be strong and should address all the concerned.
As we direct ourselves to the tactical plans and their completions all the way through till the strategic changes, we need to be able to completely communicate each update in a systematic manner. This will ensure and boost communication throughout and will update the necessary stakeholders of the progress the PMO is making and how apt the PMO implementation is for the organization.
Step 6 – Stop. Watch. Fix. Repeat
Continuous improvement is the best way for a project or any undertaking to grow and mature into the systems and processes we’d like them to be. Your PMO would have short- as well as long-term recommendations made. These should be reviewed frequently, mostly on a yearly basis, to make plans and deal out opportunities from them. With every review and plan and implementation, your PMO grows and so does the project management office organization in its implementation of projects and programs.
Your PMO is not a stagnant entity. It evolves and the way it evolves is an iterative process. Review each opportunity or risk encountered and review the way the process is yielding value. Once you do that you will be able to find gaps that need filling, till you reach perfection.