Whether your Project Management Office has been around for decades or whether it’s a relatively new team, there are certain processes that you should be using.
We know that each PMO is slightly different, and what a PMO does is different in every organization. However, there are certain things that PMOs have in common. If you want to be seen as a value-adding team, who helps project managers get their work done, then you should consider having these ten processes embedded and used across the business.
1. Project Approval
First up, the project approval process. This is the way that projects get approved to move forward in the organization.
You need some way of working out what projects get actioned and what don’t make it beyond the starting line. The business case and project proposal documents can help with this, but you also need a decision-making framework that sits around the paperwork. This looks at:
- Where project ideas come in from
- Who makes the decision about whether to progress them
- What information they need to make the decision
- What happens once the project is approved.
This process is crucial for making sure the business is working on the right things.
2. Resource Allocation Process
The resource allocation process is something that many PMOs take on, but not all. If your project resources work for the PMO, then it’s critical that you know how to allocate them to projects. You may take skills and availability into consideration when looking at who is free to take on particular projects.
An associated process is looking at how you hire and retain good project professionals in the organization, because you can’t allocate resources you don’t have!
3. Project Escalation Process
What happens when something goes wrong? Who needs to know? These are the questions that the project escalation process seeks to answer.
This will involve having criteria around what types of project situation get escalated and to whom. For example, you may need to flag all delays on strategic projects to the Chief Operating Officer.
4. Risk Management Process
Each project manager will manage the risks for their projects. They should be looking at the major risks and escalating up the ones that have a significant business impact. As a PMO team, you should be consolidating the risk profile for projects in the portfolio. Take a look at the risk exposure across the business, as the sum of all the major risks related to current initiatives.
What you find out could be quite scary! You’ll need a good risk management process to deal with the overlaps between projects and the tasks required to adequately respond to the risks.
5. Change Management Process
The PMO should be the guardian of the change management process. You should have written it and defined it, and trained the project teams in how to use it. This is important because projects hit the need to change all the time. It’s rare that a project ends up delivering exactly what it said it would, because the business needs change, requirements change, user expectations change, the market changes, and so on.
In order to be able to adequately flex the project work to meet the changing needs of the organization, you need to have an effective change management process in place that everyone adheres to.
6. Project Budgeting Process
A budgeting process allows you to consolidate project budgets and report on the full cost of the project work. It also helps you respond to queries from managers and the Finance team because it allows you to see where money is going.
Project managers will individually manage the finances for their own projects, but there should be a standard process that they follow, perhaps with mandated templates and steps, to ensure that the company’s money is being processed in a standard way.
7. Project Reporting Process
The PMO should definitely have a reporting process. It’s not enough to respond to requests for information on an ad hoc basis, although you will no doubt do that as well! You should have a formal, documented approach to reporting. This would look at:
- The frequency of reports
- The content of reports: all projects, just the Red projects, just the inflight projects?
- The audience for the reports
- The method of sharing the reports with the audience: are you going to email them, produce hard copies, deliver in a presentation format?
8. Project Prioritization Process
The project prioritization process is allied to your project approval process. Once a project is approved, it should be prioritized so that everyone knows how important it is in the bigger picture.
However, prioritization isn’t something that you just do once. As project requirements change, or the business environment changes, you may have to reassess the priority of projects. For example, if you suddenly face a regulatory change, that should be a top priority for the organization. Failing to switch up your processes to deal with new regulation could be the end of your company, so the project to make those changes could quickly find itself being the business’ top priority.
That has an implication for other projects in the portfolio. The project that was top of the priority list isn’t there any longer, and everything shifts around.
Being able to prioritize effectively is important because the priority projects get the resources, funding, management attention and time. Other projects have to take their chances afterwards!
9. Demand Management Process
Demand management is about the flow of work into the PMO and onward through project delivery into the business.
A demand management process looks at how you control that flow of work to make sure that the business isn’t overstretched at any point. For example, it might be a priority to build a new app for your company. But if you don’t have the resources available with the right skills, demand management would force you to think about how you are going to get those skills.
It’s a bit different from the project approval process or the resource allocation process because it takes a far longer-term view of the incoming work. You might be looking at what the project delivery teams will be doing next year on a project, to make sure that you can adequately meet the demand for resources and skills.
Equally, if you don’t have many projects coming through, then you may be looking at scaling back the amount of project resources on the team as they won’t have very much to do.
10. Project Closure Process
Finally, the project closure process is so important if you want to ensure a smooth handover to the business as usual activity.
Too often, projects are handed over in a hurry, and the business teams don’t know exactly what they should be doing with them. Or the project handover doesn’t happen, and the project resources end up supporting the solution for years after their delivery part of the work was finished.
A clear process for moving a project out of the PMO and into the business to be looked after ‘in the wild’ is really helpful.
These 10 processes are things that you should have in your PMO, and if you don’t, you should know why they aren’t required for your business. How many do you have in place?