Adding a project support office (PSO) into your organisation can improve processes and free the project management office (PMO) to deliver on strategic goals. We’re going to look at the five steps to set up a project support office for your business.

The function of a PSO is to run administration and processes for a portfolio of projects. Some work is taken away from the PMO, and some project functions are brought together so that project resources can focus their skills on achieving project goals.

A PSO tends to be set up in a business after a PMO has been established. We’re basing the five steps to set up a PSO on that assumption.

1.      Make the case

As with any change you propose to the business structure, you need to have a strong business case to push it through.

What has made you explore the need for a PSO in your organisation? Has the number of projects increased or the level of difficulty of the projects?

Although a PSO might be a nice-to-have, you will need to make a strong justification based on business needs. This may be about overall cost reduction by sharing administration tasks between projects or improving governance with a dedicated support team.

Whatever the reasoning for introducing a PSO, you need to have numbers and data to back up your case.

2.      Pitch to the C-suite

With the business case made, you now need to get the buy-in from the organisation’s leadership.

If you were the person responsible for setting up the PMO, this pitching process will be familiar. You will need to work with your PMO sponsor to ensure you have their support before going to the leaders to ask them to invest in a new office.

If you work through the first step carefully and have solid financial and strategic reasons to create a PSO, your pitch should go smoothly and – all being well – be accepted and signed off.

3.      Define the PSO role

You will have made an outline of the role you expect your new PSO to fill during your pitch to the C-suite. Once they buy-in, you need to flesh out the activities and functions you want to fall under your PSO.

You will need to consider:

  • The structure of the PSO in terms of the roles you need to fill
  • The processes and reports that will be moved to the PSO
  • Which tools need to have support focus and be managed by the PSO

This will help you staff, tool, and launch your new PSO successfully.

Just like you work through the activities that your PMO will focus on, you need to pinpoint exactly what you expect from your PSO. This will also help you to define the KPIs and expectations you will have of the new office.

4.      Create the organisational structure

The people that will staff a PSO are the backbone of the office. The tasks that will be assigned to the PSO will play a big role in the internal organisational structure and where it will fit into the business.

A clear structure at the beginning, in conjunction with an outline of the activities that a PSO will do, will keep the office on track. You want to make sure the new office delivers what you and the C-suite expect, so you need to make sure the people are in the right roles to make that happen.

We’ll look at the roles and resources a PSO needs in the next blog in this series.

5.      Roll out the office

Once you have the plan for the office in place, it’s time to realise it. You’ll need to have a plan to transfer activities from your PMO and/or projects in a way that’s minimally disruptive.

In some cases, you can wait for projects to finish without bringing them under the PSO, but for long-term projects, you’ll need to work on restructuring processes.

By the end of the process, you will have a fully integrated PSO that supports both your PMO and the projects you manage.

Setting up a PSO

Following these five steps to setting up your PSO will help you be organised and have a framework to set the new office up for success in the long term.