There are so many challenges when an organization decides to setup a Project Management Office (PMO). These challenges range from strategic to tactical, theoretical to practical. The question is how do we implement an effective PMO?
Understand Your Environment
It is essential that you understand the environment in which you will be setting up an effective PMO. For example, does your company produce software? If so, you may be best served by setting up a PMO that leverages an Agile framework and methodology. Maybe your company is service related? In that case, it may be beneficial to setup a PMO that leverages a Waterfall/Phase-gate framework with an Agile methodology.
Regardless of the framework and methodology that you choose it is imperative that you consider the skillsets that you have in your organization. There are a few questions to consider:
- Does the PMO have top-down buy-in?
- Have you properly prepared leadership for the setup of a PMO?
- Does your current staff have the appropriate skillset?
- Will current staff require additional training?
- Will you need to hire on new staff/roles?
Crawl – Walk – Run Mentality
There’s always room for improvement, and you will always need to mature into that improvement. Regardless of where you are in the project management maturity model, it is important to remember that you must crawl before you walk, and walk before you run. This expectation must be set early and reminded of often. Too many times the perception is that the PMO will solve all of an organization’s woes. This simply isn’t the case. The implementation of a PMO will definitely help certain aspects of the initiatives that an organization undertakes, but to be highly effective takes maturity, and the cost of that maturity is time.
Crawl: Standardize and Improve
When first learning to operate a PMO, you’ll want to focus on two critical components. First, standardize the way you plan and execute your projects. This is commonly referred to as your framework. A good foundational framework is key and will ensure that everyone understands how you, as an organization, will plan and execute your projects.
Some great elements of a solid framework are standardized projects and program governance. This covers things such as how to scope a project (what is and isn’t included), how to manage risks and issues, how you manage change, and even how you will communicate. Setting these foundational elements up front will allow you to mature your framework and methodology to best suit your organizational needs and wants.
Walk: Improve and Increase Efficiency
Now that your PMO has mastered the basics, it’s time to mature the model. You have some experience under your belt and this is key in advancing your maturity level. For example, you may have now moved through several projects and know how your organization likes to communicate. Take this experience and refine your Communications Management Plans to fit the needs and wants of the organization. Perhaps it’s time to become more efficient and accurate on the estimation side of a project. There are tools and techniques that you may want to help you in maturing your ability to estimate project duration and cost.
You have near-infinite options on what you choose to mature, but keep two things in mind as you do. First, you’re always going to be refining and maturing the model. Doing so only makes things better for you and your organization. Second, if at first you don’t succeed try, try again. Yep, that old adage was bound to come up! Not everything you try will work, but don’t give up.
Run: Refine for Optimal Efficiency
There are a ton of PMO maturity models out there on the world wide web. I’ve used many of them and can say that some are good and others are not. What I can say, definitively, is choose the maturity that is right for you and your organization. Some organizations need a ton of structure while others require more flexibility. Finding that sweet spot and optimizing it is the key to success.
Encourage everyone to keep their eyes open for waste. Even in highly mature models, it isn’t uncommon to find waste. This typically manifests itself in wasted time. For example, if your project managers are creating a project artifact that is used only in the rarest instances, perhaps it is best to reevaluate that document. You may find that you can identify the types of projects that the artifact is used in up front, and create it only for that project type. The opportunity for refinement and operational efficiencies are boundless.
– Matt Craig, Client Service & Delivery