Description of an administrative / reporting PMO

The Administrative or Reporting PMO (report clearing house) is the basic form of PMO.  Due to this it is the type of PMO that most management have experience of.

The main purpose of an Administrative PMO is:

  • Report consolidation
  • Report distribution
  • Track deliverables / milestones
  • Programme administration
  • Document management

Report Consolidation

In order to simplify the reporting process and allow management to make informed business decisions, it is important to standardise the method of reporting.  This can be achieved by:

  • Standard report template
  • Agreed reporting timetable (weekly, monthly, etc)

Before starting the regular reporting routine, it is important that the process is set up for success.  Senior management should communicate the requirement of regular reporting, why it is important and how it will be used.  They should also make it clear that the PMO has the authority to request the project reports in the defined format, to be delivered by the agreed date.  This will stop a lot of “push back” and time wasting.

The PMO should build a list of expected reports together with contact points and ensure that reports are submitted by the agreed date.

Initially the PMO will focus on the capture and consolidation of all of the project reports into a simple pack.  Over time the PMO should start to perform rudimentary checks of the project reports i.e. correct report date, all mandatory fields populated, etc.  Eventually this should lead to fully reviewing each project report including RAG status and content so as to make sure the content is coherent and provides an accurate update on the project.

Remember: The project status report is an important tool for the project manager.  When they prepare the report they should take time to think about what has been done and what still needs to be done so they can make the appropriate adjustments – it is NOT a form filling exercise for the benefit of management!

The PMO may decide to develop a summary dashboard that provides a summary of all of the projects on a single page.  This is useful when senior management do not have time to read every project report.

Report Distribution

The PMO should build a list of all stakeholders who need to be provided with a copy of the programme reporting pack.  When the programme reporting pack is ready (and proof read to make sure there are no errors, etc), it should be published to the appropriate stakeholders.  If the programme reporting pack is needed as an input to a meeting, ensure it is published at least 24 – 48 hours before the meeting.  The PMO may also be tasked to prepare hardcopies for the meeting (tip: print these in plenty of time before the meeting as printers have a habit of breaking when you are up against a tight deadline).

Track Deliverables / Milestones

Significant milestones may be included in the project status reports or they may be contained in the individual project plans.  The PMO should work with each project manager to agree a set of significant milestones that will be using for monitoring progress.  The PMO should then ask for updates as part of each reporting cycle so that a milestone report can be included in the programme reporting pack.  Most senior management like to see this in the form of a simple milestone chart.

Programme Administration

The PMO should take on the responsibility of the administration of the programme including:

  • Providing project templates
  • Providing project reporting calendars
  • Compiling and maintaining contact and distribution lists
  • Setting up a central location to store programme documentation (shared network drive, Sharepoint site, etc)
  • Arranging steering committee meetings

The list goes on and on depending the scope of the PMO.

Document Management

As mentioned above, the PMO should take ownership of all programme documentation and ensure it is stored in a central location where documents can be accessed.  The PMO should also define how project documents should be stored and perform checks to ensure that the policy is being followed.

The benefit of this is that any team member should be able to find a document without having to search or ask someone, it promotes good discipline, allows the sharing of best practice / knowledge and, it puts the programme in a good place as and when the project is audited.

Practical PMO Tips

  1. Clearly define standardised project reporting requirements.
  2. Get senior sponsors to communicate why it is important and empower the PMO.
  3. Check project reports and programme reporting pack for hygiene (consistent, no errors, etc).
  4. Build good working relationship with project managers so reporting quality can be improved.