Project Management Office best practice

Project Management Office Best Practice

Project Management Offices (PMOs) are designed to improve the execution of projects and deliver them on time and within budget. Originating in the 1950’s within the U.S. Government, they gained popularity during the 1990’s as the use of technology evolved.

What does a PMO do?

The role of a PMO will vary depending on the organisation, however is has four main functions.

Project tracking

Most PMOs are developed to ensure that project tracking and reporting is consolidated in one place.

Development of processes

Members of the PMO build processes to ensure the successful completion of the project. They monitor and evolve those processes over time, making any necessary changes.

Software

The PMO is responsible for choosing and implementing appropriate software. The type of software needed will depend on the project, and the PMO team will have input into the selection. Once the software has been decided upon, the team will be responsible for the procurement and training of staff.

Governance

Governance is a core function, and it is the role of the PMO to support the Project Manager with governance procedures. They can range from informal one-to-ones between the team, to official quality audits.

Achieving and maintaining good practice

Acquire the right resources

Your PMO must have the correct people, knowledge, behaviours and skills to be effective. Project Managers must the project strategically rather than solely focussing on tasks and deliverables.

Identify the stakeholders

Stakeholders should be identified in order to align your processes with their needs. Use metrics so that the performance of the PMO can be measured against their satisfaction.

Keep processes simple

Processes should be clearly explained and understood by all members of the team, whilst matching the needs of stakeholders.

Develop a project charter

Every project should have a charter or mandate which identifies stakeholders, sets objectives and explains how the project will be carried out.

Align the PMO with wider strategic objectives

This can be achieved by building a clear framework to show the alignment and communicate the PMO’s value to the wider organisation. Identifying the strategic objectives will keep sight of long term goals rather than focussing inward on day-to-day project management.

Provide clear information to senior management

Simple information offered to senior management team members will enable them to see how the expectations and reality connect.

Here, less is more.

Senior Managers are often busy and only want the information that supports them. Learn to recognise this and identify which information is necessary, and which can be left out.

Identify achievements

Complement metrics with success stories to really show the achievements of the PMO. Hard numbers can often to be difficult to decipher and don’t highlight the tangible benefits that are achieved.

Don’t just highlight that a project was completed early, explain why it was completed early and how this impacts the wider organisation.

Evolve the PMO

It is important, particularly in a technologically advanced world, that you evolve your PMO accordingly.

Your desired outcomes may not be the same as they were five years ago, and so you should identify whether the configuration of the office needs to change in line with your outcomes. This may mean changing the staff, processes or the focus.

Having a PMO will facilitate the successful completion of projects, but only if best practice is maintained. As the PMO matures, the organisation sees a higher level of performance. The PMO should therefore seek to improve the maturity, and identify and address any key issues that may cause its failure.

For more details on PMO maturity including the PMO Template Framework developed by PM Majik, please visit: