A Great PMO Doesn't Just Happen - Here's How You Can Establish the Right PMO
A Roadmap for Setting up a PMO
- Identify a Stakeholder Group. Think of this as your advisory and sponsor board. These are individuals that have a vested interest in project management execution performance and are willing to contribute their time and counsel in guiding the launch of a PMO. You'll want people that will be helpful. You'll need the leaders who, if they don't participate, can derail your PMO launch. Depending on the company culture, this group might be a formally chartered group, or you might have an informal group of stakeholders that you'll contact individually as needed.
- Agree on the Urgency and Need for a PMO. Engage with your stakeholder group in getting a consensus view of "What is the problem we are looking to address?" and "What is the urgency in addressing this problem?" You likely will have to push a bit to get to a solid understanding of the problem because frequently stakeholders describe a solution rather than a problem (the 5 Whys technique, gently applied, might be useful). The consensus business problem to solve is key and becomes the foundation for setting up a PMO. If a business case isn't required, a rudimentary cost/benefit analysis might be useful in determining the level of investment for this new PMO.
- Understand the Current State. You'll collect and analyze a mix of quantitative and qualitative information that directly and indirectly is related to the business problem to solve. This is where you'll define metrics and collect measures on current performance - this baseline becomes your point of comparison later, showing the tremendous improvement enabled by your new PMO.
- Define the PMO Target State. It is good practice to have a vision of where you and the team are going. Engage with a "PMO Action Team" composed of current project managers and others who will become part of the new PMO. Craft your consensus description of the new PMO, ensuring that it is designed to address the business problem to solve identified by stakeholders; this might be rather involved because there are so many options to consider when selecting PMO capabilities that you'll be implementing. Run this Target State definition past your Stakeholder Group, getting their suggestions and endorsement. You also will put together an implementation plan for your PMO.
- PMO Pilot. Go/No Go Launch Decision. Some, but not all, PMO launches can benefit by having a smaller scale PMO Pilot. Set up a short duration (a few weeks, perhaps) to try out the PMO operation and fine tune the details. Determine if the Pilot PMO provides the expected value and use the results to inform a Go/No Go decision on rolling out the PMO more broadly. Remind the Stakeholder Group of the PMO Target State definition, the impact on them, and the schedule for various launch activities; secure their concurrence to launch.
- PMO Implementation (Staged or Big Bang). This is it! Time to flip the switch and get your PMO running. Ensure ample communications have gone out in advance and that support for impacted teams is in place. Publish information about quick wins delivered with this implementation. Adjust if you are not seeing the expected results.
- PMO Continuous Improvement. Keep your Stakeholder Group in place and engaged. Report to them on the successful outcomes resulting from the initial PMO launch and work with them to identify new important business problems to solve. Your PMO team will need to develop an awareness of their effectiveness and efficiency - ensure you have regular reporting and analysis of relevant metrics and use this information within the team to identify improvement opportunities.
Parting Thoughts - Next Steps
A new PMO, by its very nature, will introduce changes. Employing Organization Change Management techniques (Who Needs Organizational Change Management Methods? Can't We Just Tell Them What to Do?) in your efforts will smooth the journey. I'm a proponent of Kotter's 8-Step Leading Change Process - see if you can spot 6 of those steps in the roadmap above.
Before embarking on a PMO implementation journey, consider reading a few books on the topic and looking at some online resources. Even if you are very experienced in setting up a PMO, it can't hurt to refresh your thinking on the many complex topics related to creating a PMO.
I'm always looking for great information and new thinking about PMOs. Here are two that I've found to be worthwhile:
- The Program Management Office: Establishing, Managing And Growing the Value of a PMO by Craig Letavec.
- LinkedIn Course: Setting Up a PMO by Hussain Bandukwala.
If you have a recommended resource, please let me know! Thank you.
I wish you success in setting up the right PMO for your company's needs.