Setting up a PMO (Project Management Office) for the first time can seem like a daunting step. In this article we’ll show you the 3 simple things you need to do when setting up a PMO up, keeping it running, delivering value, as quickly as possible.
1. Build Trust
First, you need to gain the trust of the people who are investing time and effort into supporting the PMO.
If they have asked you to take the next steps and create your PMO, then this should be relatively easy. The trust in your ability to do the job is already there. You have to make sure that overall, that trust isn’t misplaced because it’s more than a reflection on your personal experience. You have to show that the organization can be trusted to adopt the PMO way of working, share knowledge, follow processes and more. And you’ll be at the helm of that.
2. Create a PMO Roadmap
Next, you should create a PMO roadmap. This is simply a plan for what you are going to do and how you are going to get there. If you have a project management or PMO background, this in itself isn’t difficult.
The challenge is that you need to work out where you want to go! To get this information, you’ll have to organize time with senior business leaders. You need to find out:
- What they want from a PMO
- Why they want to work with a PMO (or if they don’t, why they feel that way)
- How they will be judging the success of a PMO
- What’s important to them as individuals
- What you can do to support their objectives and their team’s objectives.
All of this will give you information to feed into the roadmap.
You should be looking to create a list of services that your PMO will provide. Then you can think about how you will get there, which services are a priority for right now, and which you will drop in over time.
Somewhere on your roadmap you need to be planning for your PMO to get involved in strategic discussions.
3. Create a PMO Charter
All PMOs are unique in that they provide a particular set of services to support a particular business.
The PMO Charter sets out what those services are, amongst other things. The Charter is a document that specifies the scope of the PMO, your objectives for the PMO and defines who is going to be involved in the PMO. It forms a documented view on what you will be doing and how it is going to get done.
You can define the remit of the PMO however you like. For example, you might document that the PMO is going to provide oversight of all IT projects over $100k, and not worry about the smaller initiatives. Or you may decide that there is enough top level governance of the large projects at the moment, so you will begin by bringing in the use of a standard project management approach to improve the success rates of the lower value projects.
The PMO Charter should include:
- The background and context as it relates to why the PMO is being set up, and any challenges the business faces that you think the PMO will be able to help with
- The scope of the PMO’s services, as outlined above
- The organization structure for the PMO, including names, roles and responsibilities (and vacancies, if you plan to recruit)
- How these people will work with or alongside project delivery professionals in the organization, including any stakeholder engagement that has already been done or is planned
- Anything else you think worthy of bringing to management’s attention at this time.
It is also worth documenting what the PMO will not do, perhaps split by what you won’t offer right now, and what you don’t have any plans to offer at all. Your roadmap will give you this information.
Your document should be a short as possible as long as it covers the relevant points. There’s no need to pad it out with unnecessary detail: the people reading it will want to get to the point as soon as possible. Plus, you don’t want to start off creating the impression that the PMO will generate a lot of impenetrable and bureaucratic documentation!
Now… Deliver Some Value
Whether that is in PMO training for executives, a coaching program for project managers, structured reporting, a plan for the deployment of Primavera P6 or something else, you need to be able to show that you are delivering something of value.
This is the step where you prove that you can do it! Your success doesn’t have to be big. It can be something small, like creating a single list for of all the projects happening in the whole company (which could actually be quite a lot of work). The point is to show that you are starting to make a difference, and to return some of the trust that has been invested in you and your team up to this point.
Evolve and Iterate
It takes time to embed the behavioral, process and technical changes that come with setting up a PMO. The organizational change aspects shouldn’t be underestimated, but at least you are now on the journey to a mature and performing PMO.
Your next steps will be to evolve your offerings, add more services, get better at delivering the services you offer and take the steps on your roadmap. You’ll be iterating your performance as you go, testing out new things and tailoring what you do to offer the best value to your organization.
Businesses change over time, and your PMO should too. Once your PMO has been operational for some time, you should carry out regular PMO health checks to ensure you are on track and that your roadmap still serves your organization.
Once you are moving, inertia will go some of the way to keeping you going. It’s up to you to ensure you are traveling in the right direction.