When you have been tasked with setting up a PMO, many of us want to get tools and processes up and running as quickly as possible.  This is a great attribute of a delivery focused person.  However, care is required as this desire usually means that our first choice is to implement tools and processes we have used before or, create new ones!

The potential problem with this is that the organisation may already have its own tools and processes that are already being used.  Therefore, implementing a different set creates standardisation and duplication issues.  Important point to remember, project managers should be spending the majority of their time managing and delivering their project.  If you make their life harder and create extra overhead, you will not be popular.

So in order to avoid this, a smart PMO will conduct an environment scan.

PMO Environment Scan

This is simply a quick check across the organisation to understand what tools and processes are being used.  The steps should be:

1. Are there existing tools and processes for project delivery / reporting / PMO activity, etc?

If there are, meet with the appropriate owners, understand what is required, where you can source templates, reporting cycles, etc and then use them to construct your PMO.

Great for user buy-in as you can point to it being Group Standard!

If there are not any standards:

2. Review what is currently being used by projects, particularly those projects which will be in the remit of the PMO you are building.

This is a very smart move.  Work out what everyone is using and then choose / adapt what is already in place.  This is great for user buy-in as it is already being used and a project manager likes it when their tools get re-used.

If what projects are using is not fit for purpose (or non-existent):

3. Use / develop your own tools and processes.

In some cases, usually more immature organisations, there will be nothing that can be used.  In this instance, you can shine by implementing your own tools and processes.  This offers a great opportunity as professional tools and processes promote confidence and this will be recognised by senior management.  If it goes well, you are in a great position to push to apply your standards Group wide – probably good for the career.

If you don’t have your own project templates or don’t want to spend time developing them, think about the advantage of buying professional project templates.

The above steps should help keep you on the good side of project managers.