Implementing a Project Management Office (PMO) is often not as simple as it might seem. As noted in this article, politics, organizational dynamics, history, personalities, etc. often come into play. When a client asks us to help “right the ship” of a struggling PMO implementation, one of the first things we want to understand, is both the history and the context of the implementation.
Similar questions are asked to help plan and carry out a new PMO implementation. What follows are some of the questions we often seek answers to – whether starting out or coming in part way through a struggling implementation. It is important to note that these are only a few of the questions, but they are very useful in gaining an understanding of the situation. Typically clients are not be able to answer all of these, thus identifying areas that could help significantly improve the situation and reduce implementation risk.
Background and Context
Background and context questions help us understand the original intent and how things have developed. It’s important to capture and confirm the answers to these questions.
- What was the business case for implementing the PMO (usually written, but not always)?
- What were the benefits expected from implementing the PMO?
- Who is the sponsor for this initiative?
- Who are/were the stakeholders (sponsors are stakeholders with more “skin in the game”)?
- What is/has been their role?
- What processes and system(s) will the PMO implement?
- What it the timeframe for implementing the PMO?
- How has the implementation fared relative to the original plan?
- How has the “people side” of change been planned and managed?
- What resistance have you encountered putting the PMO in place?
- Describe how the PMO is (or was intended to be) organized?
- What is/were the expected service offerings of the PMO to its “customers”?
The PMO artifacts are the tools, systems, processes, procedures, training, etc. that the PMO uses to execute its role(s). When we look at these we are seeking to understand how strong they are as elements of the PMO “infrastructure” and the degree to which they have been integrated and embraced by the PMO contributors and customers.
- What documentation and tools exist to support these key process groups?
- Monitoring & Control
- To what degree are people following these procedures/processes?
- What are the current standards that the PMO is putting in place?
- What scheduling and other templates are to be made available?
- How many projects will be managed or supported by the PMO?
- Characterize the type (& numbers/type) of users of the PMO.
- How is PMO used by these users/contributors?
- How is knowledge transferred between incoming and outgoing PMO staff?
There are many other questions that are asked in addition to the ones above. However, when we are X-raying a PMO implementation (or planning for a new implementation), these are often a good place to start.