Launching and Maintaining a Successful PMO

Launching and Maintaining a Successful PMO

Launching and Maintaining a Successful PMO
 Launching and Maintaining a Successful PMO

Originally created to ensure good project management practices throughout an organization, the Project Management Office (PMO) has been expanded to a more strategic role and is largely viewed as the solution to better decisions, information, and execution.  Organizations that want to improve project outcomes, provide critical project information for executives, or institute an analytical project decision process, are increasingly turning to the creation of a PMO as the change agent. 
How to best launch and maintain a successful PMO:
1. Understanding the type of PMO that needs to be established  It is important to understand that within an organization PMOs can be established to serve a specific purpose. 
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According to the Program Management Office Handbook, prepared by the PMO Special Interest Group (PMOSIG) of the Project Management Institute (PMI), there are five types of Programs:
  • Strategic Programs – focuses on work to align with the organization’s strategic goals and objectives      
  • Operational Programs – focuses on operations within an organization (specifically operational process improvement initiatives to drive operational effectiveness and efficiency)      
  • Product Programs – focuses on a specific product      
  • Functional Programs – aligns to a specific function of the organization such as service delivery or information technology      
  • Enterprise Programs – generally high risk programs that span the organization and impact multiple business units, operations and functions. 
Each of the above types of Programs could have their own PMO within an organization.  In an organization with multiple types of PMOs, it also makes sense to establish an Enterprise PMO. The enterprise PMO would institute a central taxonomy, maintain a central repository of processes, templates and documentation, and provide centralized training and mentoring. 

2. Determining the PMO’s roles and responsibilities  
Within a PMO, the specific roles and responsibilities can vary depending on the level of sponsor support and the stated goals and objectives of the PMO. 

A PMO can serve one or more of the following roles:
  • Mentoring and coaching
  • Process methodology definition and maintenance
  • Project monitoring and control
  • Governance support and strategic alignment
  • Reporting (Project and Management level)
  • Project selection and execution
  • Acquisition Management and Support
  • Life Cycle enforcement and reviews
  • Budget and resource estimation
Depending on which of the above responsibilities are selected, there will be an impact on the types of roles and the number of people involved.   Generally, PMOs that provide guidance but do not actually have the responsibility of running projects or programs are not very large — perhaps 3 to 5 members.  
Is the PMO responsible for management reporting?  Is the PMO responsible for ensuring that projects are following the defined life  cycle?  Is the PMO responsible for promoting effective and efficient operations?  Does the PMO have portfolio decision-making authority?   Does the PMO support senior management by supplying information to help senior management make portfolio decisions (accepting, maintaining and  removing projects from the portfolio based on performance or risk factors, etc.). All of these considerations will impact the size and structure of the PMO. 

3. Obtaining senior management backing and support  
Regardless of the difficulties and resistance to change, obtaining senior management support is the foundation upon which a successful PMO must be built. Obtaining executive support will also ease the change management challenges that come with instituting new project management processes. 
4. Developing a communication strategy  PMO communication responsibilities can be two-fold.  The first communication responsibility includes managing and directing communication within the project or program.  The second responsibility entails the PMO to communicate out to the organization on the PMO’s goals and objectives. Depending on the level of senior management support, the second point may be critical to the overall success of the PMO. 

In an organization where the PMO’s direct level of authority is limited, the PMO might have to reach out to programs, functions and business units to let them know that the PMO is there to support them. This is common in PMOs that mainly promote process improvement, but don’t generally have the enforcement authority to ensure that all projects follow a consistent process.

5. Focusing on providing immediate value  
Immediate value is critical, yet sometimes overlooked. There is no need to try to involve the PMO across all work products from the outset. It is better to start with one or two projects so that the work is manageable.
This allows the PMO to show value to the organization quickly. Since the PMO is not a revenue generating operation, it must show that it is improving effectiveness and efficiency through solid performance metrics. By being able to provide and show value, the PMO can gain the confidence of management and the organization and ultimately become a trusted partner to management.

6. Ensuring Alignment with the organization strategy  
As a PMO, ensuring alignment to the organization’s strategic goals and objectives should be forefront on the PMO’s list of priorities. PMOs have a responsibility to ensure that the organization’s work is aligned with its strategic objectives. PMOs must also ensure that they are in tune with the direction of the organization.  
The objective of program management is to manage risk and facilitate project coordination by providing a framework for project execution.  For organizations looking to take their planning and management of IT-related projects to the next level, a PMO is a critical piece of the puzzle.
A successful PMO can help your organization:
  • Create a framework for project execution      
  • Coordinate  methodology, tools, techniques, and knowledge management to project teams      
  • Facilitate integration and coordination between projects      
  • Effectively deploy organization and external resources      
  • Allow project managers to lead, and focus on issue resolution      
  • Focus project teams on deliverable production      
  • Reduce project cycle time      
  • Mitigate project risk 
  • Time-box implementation
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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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