By Andy Wojewodka, Changepoint Sr. Business Process Consultant
So, Management has decided to move forward with a PMO role, and now you might be wondering “what’s next?” Keep in mind, you wouldn’t be hearing this decision unless there’s something wrong with the company’s current state. It’s usually tied to project delivery performance issues, the lack of timeliness and visibility of initiatives across the enterprise, or uncertainty regarding prioritization and selection of project investment focus. Addressing any of these areas (let alone all three) is a noble cause, therefore before tackling a PMO rollout it is essential to understand expectations, gauge how realistic they are, and create a roadmap ahead of time to ensure success and sustainability.
The role of a PMO is as varied as the number of diverse industries and business cultures. Some organizations have a PMO focus to communicate what is happening across the enterprise while other PMO organizations are established to facilitate a governance process for prioritization and conflict resolution. In addition, there are PMO departments held accountable to deliver the initiatives that have been approved by Management. Keep in mind that there are also many PMO departments with a combination of all three roles and responsibilities. It’s important as you get started to determine upfront what is expected from the PMO department and how well the stakeholders are aligned with the PMO’s roles and responsibilities across the enterprise. To get there you’ll want to ask yourself the following questions:
- Is there a clearly defined charter for the PMO?
- Do all stakeholders agree with the PMO’s roles and responsibilities?
- Has an organizational framework been defined to support the PMO’s roles and responsibilities?
- Will the stakeholders support the framework beyond simply approving a budget and giving lip service to the charter?
Determine Whether Expectations Are Realistic
Having an aligned set of expectations is one thing, but it is equally important for Management to equip the PMO organization with the assets and authority necessary to achieve their desired outcomes. Even with these tools in place, stakeholders must recognize there is no silver bullet, and have the fortitude to withstand the impulse to revert back to old ways of doing things. In order to do so, the PMO must regularly ask themselves the following questions:
- Is a governance framework in place to prioritize work and mitigate conflicts?
- Is PMO empowered to achieve Management’s expectations?
- Is the PMO organization sufficiently staffed to support the objectives?
- Are there sufficient tools available to manage the objectives efficiently and effectively?
Develop a Roadmap for Success
Rolling out a PMO organization should be viewed no differently than managing any other large project. In other words, the foundation for success is applying and adhering to solid Project Management principles, which means requirements should be clearly defined with a solid project plan and adequate staffing needs to be in place to support end deliverables. With these principles in mind, you can create a solid PMO foundation by taking the following steps:
- Plan the work and work the plan
- Establish a steering committee with formal project updates and manage expectations appropriately
- Establish a formal issue and risk mitigation process
- Determine the impact of the change that the PMO will have on the organization
- Develop appropriate Organizational Change Management (OCM) program
- Track overall PMO performance against established baselines
Sustaining the PMO Practice
PMO sponsors and stakeholders need to maintain momentum well beyond the launch, because sustaining a healthy PMO continually requires the right people, processes, and tools to be in alignment. Don’t forget that a PPM or PSA tool can actually help keep these resources on track and focused on achieving goals of the PMO. Thinking of a PMO rollout like any other project allows you to categorize resources, prioritize, and set milestones which continually evaluate key performance indicators against established baselines. This evaluation process then pushes an organization to not only strive for continuous improvement but also realize the value a successful PMO practice can provide long after implementation. Although a PMO practice, like anything, will never reach perfection, keeping stakeholders engaged through active participation maintains buy-in and focus for the PMO role throughout its lifespan.