PMO Series, Part I: First Steps in Establishing a PMO

Oct 1, 2013   |   By SEI Team

After forwarding SEI’s article of The Project Management Office (PMO): A Proven Method for Increasing Project Success to my network, I was asked what it would take to establish a PMO. I sent a request to my fellow SEIers. The collective value of the responses that I received within minutes was amazing. SEI has extensive experience establishing PMOs from the ground up, leading PMOs, and improving processes within PMOs.

Reading the responses and making a couple of calls I discovered I had more questions. I got the experts across SEI on a call for a Q & A session. I wanted to know more about “What is the best approach?”, “How to keep it simple?”, “What were some of the lessons learned?”, and “How to keep the delivery method agnostic?”  The SEI experts were able to address these and many more.

Create The PMO Vision

The outcome of the Q &A session was that there isn’t a one size fits all approach to setting up a PMO. The clear message was that you need to get the PMO’s vision documented. The organization needs to define what they want the PMO to do. For example do you want to have an Enterprise PMO, a Functional PMO or a Strategic PMO. The vision should be stated as to what the PMO will do once all of the changes have been integrated and adapted across the organization. Once you have the vision of PMO, you need to get buy-in from the top of the organization down. Without the buy-in, the PMO is doomed from beginning.

In addition the organization needs to realize that this is a change process for the entire organization and it will take time to establish and get all areas of the organization adapted to the PMO processes. An organization readiness assessment should be conducted to determine if it is ready for a PMO.

Create the PMO Roadmap

A roadmap needs to be created that takes the organization from where it is today to where it wants to be in the future. It should identify quick wins for every two to three months. Quick wins show progress the PMO is making throughout the life cycle which will help build confidence in stakeholders. Samples of quick wins for the first phase of creating a PMO are:

  • Creating a single point for all projects and their current status, issues, and cost/savings.
  •  Evaluation of the projects in the pipeline can be completed to determine those that could be cut due to not meeting the business objectives.

These will enable the executives to have a picture of what is in progress and the impact to the business so they can make decisions on where best to utilize resources.

A key call-out is to communicate all achievements so that the organization can see the value of the PMO.

Check back in a few weeks when our PMO Series Part 2: Then What to Do blog will be published.

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