Change in a PMO

Change in a PMO

Change in a PMO
 Change in a PMO


Why Strategy Matters in a PMO Framework

The first time I setup a PMO it was the gold standard in terms of process, risk, and compliance. Every project had all the required documentation in the correct order and signed. All the standard reports were produced and sent out on schedule. 
That PMO was also a failure. It was a failure I ended up learning a lot from. If all you do is define and govern a project life cycle, you are missing the most important goal of having a PMO in the first place. What matters more than great process and procedures is that your projects are effectively executing the goals and strategies of your organization.  
Below, I will cover three ways to really make your PMO shine.

Does the Project Stack Up

A project proposal can be a great idea, but does it advance the strategic goals of the organization? And how does it compare to other proposals in the pipeline? And is the Business Case analysis sound? An organization has a finite project budget and it is up to the PMO to ensure they get the maximum VALUE out of that budget. The easiest way to start this is with a project scoring model. The process requires a relatively small amount of effort and is used to quickly filter the best candidates for further analysis. At the end, the PMO should have a list of sound proposals for the business to review. 

Are the Correct Stakeholders at the Table

I have seen IT run a project with little to no business involvement and I have seen it the other way where the business runs the project and brings IT in only where critical and when all the contracts are signed. To be successful, you need both the technical expertise and subject matter expertise on day one. You also need to think about support teams. Who is going to do the training? how about the marketing? Or is there any compliance you need to factor in? This is where the PMO not only ensures the correct players are involved but to also make sure none of the players bog down the process. 

Is the Organization Ready

You are about to implement the largest change to your organization in a decade. Do your employees know why you are doing this? Do they know how it will affect them and change their work? If you keep them in the dark, you are asking for trouble. If you keep them informed, you will get a treasure of great feedback and teams proactively ensuring the change will work fine in their area. The project could also require a lot of additional work as people will be pulled away for analysis and testing. If so, what actions or events can you do to keep the spirits up? A focus on the people can turn a good project into a great one. 
Three Roles of the Project Management Office

PMO and Value Expectations

When someone says PMO most people think of a team of Project Managers with a long list of forms and procedures that everyone needs to follow. This might have been true in the past, but these days there is a greater expectation of the PMO to provide more value to the company. It is not enough to say you completed your project on time; schedule or budget if you can't prove those projects brought value to the company. This value expectation can vary greatly between companies and even within different departments of a company. 

The Flow of the PMO

The three roles of PMO I want to cover are Strategic, Governance, and Historical. I also reference Plan - Do - Check as it is the basis of the concept. Besides the three areas of focus, you also have the procedures, templates, metrics, and tools used to support the roles. The diagram below shows the general flow of a project through a PMO starting as a candidate project, then an approved project and last a closed project. A PMO can also include Project Managers that run projects, but it does not need to have them. Project Managers could be in the functional departments of the company with central oversight and governance handled in the PMO.

Strategic Role

The most value from the PMO is also the one done the least, or poorly, and that is the Strategic role. This is where the PMO works with senior leadership to select the candidate projects that best align with the strategic goals of the company, have a sound business case, and provides the benefit to cost ratio. This is usually done through a combination of cost/benefit analysis and a scoring system that looks at all facets of the project. A well-oiled PMO will be able to provide the executive team with enough focused information on the project proposals to make smart decisions. 
Sounds easy right? It would be except I forgot to mention one more factor and that is politics. Sometimes the logical choice does not always prevail. There are two things that can improve the chances of objectivity. One is the obvious support from the top. The second (and just as important) is a lean, efficient, and transparent process that provides leadership focused information needed to make informed decisions. Without the strategic role, your value to the company will be minimal and have little support from the top. 

Governance Role

The meat and potatoes of a PMO are the Governance role. This is the part you see in every PMO and the area some dread the most if you have mounds of process and procedures. It is where you monitor the projects to ensure it is properly following project process and procedures. To do this you will usually have guides, templates, a project portfolio dashboard, and project portfolio tools to help Project Managers follow the PMO procedures. 
This is also where you ensure the project scope, cost, and the schedule is in tip-top shape. If not, the project should be flagged and escalated up the chain of command. For a regulator, this is what they care about the most and considered the main reason for their existence. Some companies setup a PMO solely to meeting regulatory requirements and completely miss the other roles that increase the value of the PMO. 

Historical Role

The last area is the repository of the historical artifact created from the project. This is used not only for reference when doing future similar projects, but also to validate that you delivered what was chartered and for statistical analysis.  The first part of this is tougher than people realize. Once the project completes, or cancels, you will archive all the project documents created during the project into a §§. Unfortunately, archiving all the project data into one area can be spotty. You might have all the meeting minutes, but not all the infrastructure design docs, all the requirements, but none of the test results.  
The reason for this is you are dealing with various functional groups in a project who each might handle their documents differently, you are working with external resources, or it is in a database.  This is where the PMO and Project Manager need to be diligent in ensuring you have a single place to find all projects information or links to the information. This becomes all the more important if you are in a regulated industry. 
The second part is a review the performance of the project. Did it meet the objectives it was set out to do? Were there lessons that could be learned from the project? And (most importantly) did the project deliver the benefits that were defined in the business case? This last part is missed the most as it needs to be done at least 6 months after the project closes to let the product deliverables settle in. 

The last part is the statistical analysis you get from historical data. If you are using a Project Portfolio Management tool you’ll be able to pull all types of data about the performance of the closed projects. 


That is the three roles the PMO. The depth of each role varies greatly for each organization and if the company is really big you will see a PMO at different levels with an enterprise PMO and divisional project offices.
The Author: Ala'a Elbeheri
                                          Ala'a Elbeheri

A versatile and highly accomplished senior certified IT risk management Advisor and Senior IT Lead Auditor with over 20 years of progressive experience in all domains of ICT.  
• Program and portfolio management, complex project management, and service delivery, and client relationship management.     
 • Capable of providing invaluable information while making key strategic decisions and spearheading customer-centric projects in IT/ICT in diverse sectors.    
• Displays strong business and commercial acumen and delivers cost-effective solutions contributing to financial and operational business growth in international working environments.      
• Fluent in oral and written English, German, and Arabic with an Professional knowledge of French.  
• Energetic and dynamic relishes challenges and demonstrates in-depth analytical and strategic ability to facilitate operational and procedural planning.  
• Fully conversant with industry standards, with a consistent track record in delivering cost-effective strategic solutions.    
• Strong people skills, with proven ability to build successful, cohesive teams and interact well with individuals across all levels of the business. Committed to promoting the ongoing development of IT skills  throughout an organization

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