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Project Smart describes a Project Management Office as a “centralized, coordinating body within an organisation or project that provides a focal point for the field of project management.” By definition, a Project Management Office (PMO) can optimize resource utilization across projects and initiatives, improve program execution and provide greater visibility and accountability. Gartner says that a Project Management Office can provide a common planning process with artifacts, a common reporting process and a common IT modernization process. A PMO can help organizations create effective control and oversight of projects and integrate them with the overall business outcomes.
Here are a few simple but effective steps to set up a Project Management Office in your organization.
Before forming a PMO, ensure that you have support from all levels, right from the senior management to the junior members of your team. Forming a PMO will affect those responsible for running projects because they will probably have a different methodology to follow resulting in a change in their working style. Failing to get support from all levels could seriously jeopardize the PMO’s effectiveness.
The PMO does not exist in a vacuum. If you are forming the PMO, you will need to identify all the touch points where it might change the processes and actions of other organizational entities. For example, forming a PMO will certainly impact the project delivery. With implementation of project governance processes, the way projects are planned, executed or monitored, will change, thus impacting the overall delivery approach.
PMO may also impact the way your organization hires or trains resources if it has the authority to contract people on a project-by-project basis. Since it is going to govern the project cost, there will be some interface between the project budget and the overall organizational budget as well.
Forming and implementing a PMO will require a major change in modus operandi. This will result in resistance from relevant stakeholders. To address this issue and obtain their buy-in and support, a phased approach will work best.
For example, first create a common methodology that each project manager will use to deliver projects. Once they become used to a standard approach, you can establish processes that provides good communication among each project.
No PMO in the world can be ‘one size fits all’. You need to identify what will work best for your organization. The focus of implementing a PMO is not to have complex processes or add multiple decision layers, but to provide the right amount of governance and project control. If you notice that implementation of certain processes has impacted the productivity or project delivery, make quick changes to either scale or processes. Always remember, there is no point in following the process just for the sake of following it. It must deliver the right values in return.
People always love to do things the way they have always done it. Implementation of PMO will require them to change the way they do things. Training will help eliminate the confusion brought on by change. It will also work as a communication exercise to earn support from stakeholders at all levels.
Training will also make people aware of how the organization’s focus and work processes have changed. Without proper training, people will not be able to understand how things will work in future.
These are just some of the best practices you can follow to set up a Project Management Office in your organization. There is no ‘one size fits all’ and you may need to dive deeper and study your organization’s needs to create a best way to set up a Project Management Office in your company.
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