A strong project management office (PMO) is there to set down a framework and goals for projects to use and become better over time. To make sure that your project managers (PMs) are aligned with business strategy, you need to ensure strong communications coming from your office.
Communicating between your PMO and projects can take many forms. There should be a range of touchpoints between your office and your PMs to make sure they are keeping business strategy front of mind as they work towards project completion.
To help you form your communication strategy in terms of strategic alignment, we’re going to look at:
- The reasons for regular, structured communication with your PMs
- The different types of communication you can organise
- How often should you be communicating about strategic goals with PMs
Why does my PMO need to communicate regularly about strategy with PMs?
Your PMO needs to make sure there is regular communication about business strategy with PMs to make sure it remains a focus. With so much project work and people management, it can be easy for a PM to lose sight of the bigger picture.
It’s part of your PMO’s role to make sure that the bigger picture plays into every part of the project’s work, from objective setting to prioritisation and assessment. Regular communication between your office and PMs will also:
- Foster a shared understanding – when a project manager understands your focus on strategic goals, it will become part of their focus, too.
- Deliver timely updates – regular meetings ensure there is space for the PM to update your office on progress and give you a chance to share best practices.
- Keep project workers focussed on strategy – conversations about strategy between leaders will take focus to the wider project workforce, keeping everyone aware of goals.
- Nip issues in the bud quickly – talking with PMs often means you will know if something is going off-track before it becomes a bigger issue.
How should my PMO communicate with project managers?
You have a range of options to communicate with project managers, including one-to-one and one-to-few methods, depending on the message you want to deliver. Sometimes the purpose of the comms will be project specific, whilst others will be a general business or office update for all PMs.
Some examples of times you’ll need to communicate between your PMO and PMs include:
- Project kick-off meetings – here, you’ll have a chance to work with the PM and stakeholders to ensure that business strategy is embedded in the project.
- Project status meetings – this can be a one-to-one or one-to-few meeting where the PM can give you an update on progress and how actions fit within the wider business strategy.
- Change request meetings – these will be ad-hoc meetings when projects need to adapt to a change in scope, budget, user requirements, etc, and you can ensure the strategy is raised each time.
- Project reviews – a broader meeting about the overall trajectory and current success of a project. This can be a time to check project/strategy fit and see if realignment is necessary.
- Budget and resourcing meetings – your PMO should be regularly reviewing budgets and resource requirements with PMs, and any updates can be assessed for their strategic importance.
How often should a PMO have meetings with a project manager?
The frequency of the meetings your PMO has with its project managers will depend on a range of factors. It’s important to touch base often so that issues can be identified early and changes in strategic direction can be embedded quickly.
Some of the factors you’ll need to consider when setting meeting and communication frequency include:
- Project complexity – more stakeholders or high technical requirements can require more meetings to keep things on track.
- Project duration – a project lasting a few months will require fewer and less regular touchpoints than a multi-year project.
- Project criticality – if the project is key to delivering business strategy, you’ll want to be sure to monitor how the PM is aligning it on a regular basis.
- Resource availability – meetings take time and resources, so when a project has fewer people, you’ll want to try and keep face-to-face comms to a minimum.
- Budget constraints – less of an issue with remote meetings having been normalised, but if you have to pay freelancer or contractor time, you’ll still want to keep calls short.
Structuring meetings to keep your PMs aligned with strategy
You need to have a strong communication plan so that your PMO and PMs are able to keep up to date and aware of business strategy and its informing progress in projects.