One of the reasons a project management office (PMO) is created within a business is to get a handle on governance. A PMO is there to make sure projects are all run well, and an important PMO best practice is the standardisation of project practices.

Whether your office is being set up to bring a range of existing projects under control or will be taking on new projects as part of a change programme, you will have to contend with different project ideas.

There will be project managers and other stakeholders who will have their own ideas about how projects should work. It’s the job of your PMO to take all this into account and standardise how every project works.

To help you figure out how to start the process and keep bringing processes into line, we’re going to look at:

  • What process standardisation looks like
  • How you can start to standardise project processes
  • Why standardisation is good for your PMO

What does process standardisation mean?

There are plenty of different ways to run a project – waterfall, agile, Scrum, Kanban. All project professionals will have their preferences, and depending on your industry, there may already be a standard.

Within the project framework, there is still room for things to be done differently. A project manager may have adapted a Gantt chart to their liking, or an agile manager may have a set up in a project software tool that they love to use.

It’s up to your PMO to make sure projects are run in the same way. They need to have the same foundations so that you can monitor, measure, and improve when needed.

This means that, after the standardisation process, you will have everything a project manager needs to run a project successfully under your PMO, including:

  • Process maps
  • Guidelines
  • Documentation
  • Reporting tools

How to standardise a project process

It can take time to standardise the complete project process. This is much harder again if your office is managing a range of projects and/or teams that are already established and using their own ways of working.

Here’s our step-by-step guide to getting it right without making life too difficult for your project teams:

  1. Pick one process that you want to work on. This will prevent everyone from being overwhelmed with so much change and also prevent a major pushback if you try to change everything at once.
  2. Understand the current process by mapping what is already happening across projects. Figure out what is being done differently, and importantly, what is already being done the same.
  3. Analyse the process to see what it’s trying to achieve and how efficient it is. Look at how any changes can be minimised by sticking with steps that all or most projects are already doing.
  4. Document the new process you want to implement. You need to be clear and concise with what you expect from each team and leave little room for interpretation.
  5. Communicate the new process effectively by running training and workshops, providing recordings on your internal networks, and having documentation on hand for everyone.
  6. Take feedback on the new process from project managers and their teams as well as the data. You should allow up to four weeks of bedding in before you make further changes or tweaks.

What are the benefits of standardising PMO processes?

When you standardise project processes, you are much better able to see what is working and what isn’t in projects. Your PMO can emulate wins and mitigate problems when you can easily spot patterns.

The data that your office collects about project success will also be easier to track when every project works in the same way. This will mean that KPIs can be standard across projects, and everyone gets measured in the same way.

It will also be easier to get new projects started when everyone works in the same way. Project workers can be split across projects when they know how to slot into a standard process.

It is a key PMO best practice to standardise processes across projects so that you can build a stronger, leaner project process.