Companies targeting strict monitoring and unsurpassed efficiency of IT projects are launching a large number of project management offices (PMO). In this guide, we are going to discuss what PMO is and key strategies to ensure successful PMO operation.
What is a Project Management Office?
A Project Management Office (PMO) is simply an external or internal group, which maintains, sets, and ensures high standards for project management to a company. Simply speaking, they are the keepers of project status, best practices, and direction in one place. Finally, PMOs are held for the organizations to deliver value to their stakeholders engaged in their programs and projects, according to Brain Weiss, career development practitioner, and vice president, Project Management Institute.
According to the research conducted by PM Solutions, there were 85% of companies reported with PMO in the year 2016, which is a 5% hike since 2014. Around 30% of companies which don’t have PMO are planning to have one. In today’s corporate world, digital transformation and Artificial Intelligence have great presence and they can also impact the role of the PMO. Read on to learn about their key roles and responsibilities, and best practices.
Key Strategies for PMO Success
Along with proper alignment, you need to consider the following strategies for running a successful PMO for your organization:
1. Right and Balanced Relationship
According to Harry Green, the head and founder of the US Postal Service’s PMO, the PMO should perform as a coach to the team. Without a proper game plan with the PMO, teams fail as they don’t get the most from the team because of lack of abilities or personalities. Hence, a PMO must be excellent and tactful in their process and should have a clear insight into the goal. It should be open and willing to consider alternatives to reach the end goal. A lot of PMOs have experience with projects, team, tool, and approaches to boost up the process and eliminate bottlenecks. Keep in mind that the PMO can hold it all with one another.
2. Experienced, Tactical PMO Team
Making and holding a strong project management team is one of the best features of PMOs. The PMO should be capable to hire highly skilled talents with essential skills and to participate in events like conferences and continue their professional development.
3. Proper Accountability
The PMO actually serves as an agent to business and gets authority from the leader who owns or sponsors the projects. Actually, it is required for PMO to work closely with the leaders and they need to stop evading the PMO and its methods and standards. The PMO cannot risk its own business and needs. And the business cannot make all of the projects non-standard or ignore the same.
4. Cultural Fit with a Company
It is vital for the companies to be careful with the maturity of their Project Portfolio Management (PPM) and align the goals for PMO with the maturity of the company. This way, it ensures all the proper works to achieve the goals. A PMO shouldn’t set goals which are the way too far from the maturity of a company.
5. Support from Stakeholders and Senior Leadership
Support from executives play a vital role in the success of PMO but vertical alignment is not enough sometimes. It is very vital for the PMO to connect with stakeholders and senior leaders horizontally and be direct to raise importance and awareness of best practices in project management, according to Prasad Mahale, PMO for the City of Riverdale, CA. It is very vital to build and maintain a robust bond horizontally with executives and provide full guidance and support with best practices workshops to improve the PMO’s success rate.
6. Superior Visibility and Credibility in an Organization
7. Consider the Objectives of a PMO
Most of the time, PMOs are established as a solution. Instead, you should establish a PMO with a clear vision of objectives. Improved project performance cannot be a clear goal. You don’t want to fix a problem which has been undefined.
8. Well-defined Processes, Policies, and Workflows
In order to make a significant change in project management procedures, you need to have a shared repository of templates and project procedures. Projects managers can be more than successful and companies can ensure better outcomes by sharing lessons they have learned for their next projects.
9. A PMO should be given proper authority for taking major decisions in a project.
10. Strong communication with the organization an in projects regarding PMO
Communication problem is really serious for the organization. Projects come from different sources. It is very vital to avoid failure. It often addresses a kickoff meeting or submission forms at the outside of the project and can help meet this issue.
11. Feasibility and Resources
When it comes to set up the portfolio, the directors in the PMO should keep track of the degree and budget when aligning with strategic goals and consider all the possible constraints and resource capabilities. Multi-project resource planning is very vital for project management offices. Irrespective of the common belief, the staff is the most popular and limiting factor. Available resources, time, skills and work of the staff truly matter. Rather than approving and processing payments as per the list of priorities until the budget is consumed, PMO directors are required to have a feasibility study of the projects before making any decisions.
12. Lean Project Portfolio
It refers to addressing disruptive and unwanted procedures in the project portfolio management and then eliminating or controlling them. It improves value with the following steps –
- Gathering project ideas and proposals constantly
- Permanent development of strategy
- Prioritizing and evaluating proposals in the planning stage
- Analyzing the project process and resolving conflicts in the stage of implementation
Lean PPM is known to have slim planning programs which do away manual features, especially in terms of maintenance, while including all the important characteristics for project portfolio management and resource planning. It saves time and stress with low complexity and the PMO director can easily combine resource planning with project planning in real time at the portfolio level.
13. Visibility and Transparency
Transparency plays a vital role overall for an organization as well as for the project management office. It provides the complete preview of all portfolios as well as internal processes to the PMO directors when it comes to make the business decisions, especially related to the current business transformation. All the PMO groups must understand and address how their actions influence the projects directly.
Meanwhile, it is very vital to establish the PMO visibly and clearly in the corporate setting. The PMO can gain confidence and recognition in all sides only when employees and companies know the scope, existence, professional procedures, and internal processes. It ensures long running of the PMO in essence and it avoids elimination in the next round of cost-saving approaches.
PMO employees usually end up struggling for the positions they have almost lost. They don’t make decisions on their own constantly and each added project improves the problem in coordination substantially. More stakeholders mean more interests and more requirements. There are still executives today who are going dominating on lower staff and waving through the projects that are less useful according to them. Having a transparent and visible position is one of the great features of a PMO to make the influence.
Ex-post and consistent evaluations are very important to do competent work for PMO directors as they are working for decision makers and division heads. An efficient PMO director determines whether the established portfolio is aligned with the strategic goals of the company constantly. The variables are subject to change constantly with customer needs and stakeholders’ needs.
Rather than learning from traditional methods like sticking to the schedule and efficiency, PMO directors need to keep track of the results, along with added value, the success of the project portfolio and ROI. It is also vital to keep track of the risk level for failures for tracking.
It is recommended to learn lessons from the previous evaluation. It is vital for the PMO directors to carry the same in PMO and promote the same on project level. More than 10 participants have been specified to keep a log book at the beginning of work. They enter any problems which come on their way. Then, they discuss and process the same at the end of a workshop.
15. Good Relationships
When it comes to improving visibility in a PMO at the organization level, it is very vital to have solid relationships with people engaged in making decisions when it comes to being assigned with high-level tasks and to raise funds for the PPM. Using mobile technology has been very vital for the efficient collaboration and exchange of information between different groups and levels of a PMO. It is very vital to have efficient communication in the boundaries of an organization for transparency, performance, and evaluation in a PMO.
The PMO is also required to provide proper training to all of its team members so they can learn and improve the scopes of duties for other teams as well as their areas of responsibility. It is very important for the whole PMO to know what they are going through and how each aspect of PPM can work well together for the betterment of a company.
Other Best Practices
Along with several other best practices, you need to consider scope management. Proper scope management is very vital for overall success in a PMO. Your end goal is the scope of your project in that case. If you cannot articulate actually what your project goals are, how would you determine success?
In addition, there is nothing you can manage, budget, measure, and plan. You cannot reach the impacts of poor scope management and it causes delays, cost overruns, low quality and failure to meet the needs of customers.
Well approved and clearly documented scope is very important at the onset of the project. It may call for some more time and hard work on the front but it will definitely help avoid mistakes. Choosing the best project management solution plays a vital role to connect departments, teams, and executives and promote collaboration with users.
With these tools, you can form an audit trail to make important communications and take important decisions. In addition, they can improve visibility and awareness to meet the project needs so PMO leaders and project managers can allocate resources to plan for future needs well.
You can also refine the overall planning process to improve project management. Add stakeholder analysis to the project planning and have a clear insight into the capacity of your team based on the project’s budget, scope, and timeline. This way, you can resolve issues quickly whenever they take place. Finally, you can confidently put on requests which come along the way.
Determining PMO Success
You need to measure and track the performance of the Project Management Office just like in any other process. It is very important to look for good metrics in the PMO as project success may not be clear always or may vary after completion with time. So, you may want to survey the users, internal customers, and stakeholders to ensure satisfactory results and process.
Project leaders can achieve helpful performance data to better analyze the benefits vs. risks for various initiatives by using project selection criteria, making the standard process, and adopting project tracking tools. It ultimately monitors the progress and helps your stakeholders to make more informed decisions for investment.
In a nutshell, you should implement best practices to meet your project management standards For example; you can place a transparent, consistent process improvement cycle to improve the PM maturity in an organization. Measure the improvements with cost-efficiency, timely project delivery, and profitability.
No two organizations can be different. There are different ways to implement proper PMO strategy in any type of company or organization. Hence, you need to choose what kind of PMO you are looking for. Consider the short-term goals and long-term objectives of the business.
As a PMO director, you have to work on managing and defining standard practices across the company. It means accessing the proper framework of templates, process, and documentation for staff training. Combine all these things with a proper project management tool and have a culture in the company to adopt best practices. It is very valuable also to your stakeholders. They can benefit from a deep knowledge of your staff in project management to achieve desired goals.