Your project management office (PMO) is there to make projects deliver on time, so your office should be able to do the same and lead by example. In this instalment of our guide to PMO time management, our five scheduling tips will help you get it right.
Time management in a project is different from running an office. You don’t have an end date to many activities and there is no specific end deliverable – deliverables must always be produced.
To help you adapt your project scheduling know-how to get your PMO operating rhythm moving, we’ve got five tips, covering:
- The basic actions you need to take to establish a PMO schedule
- How to mitigate spikes in demand in the future
- Keeping your schedule realistic
- Having a PMO schedule that ensure on-time delivery
- The tools that can help your PMO scheduling efforts
1. Map out your PMO’s regular tasks
When you begin to plan your PMO schedule, you gather all the information about the tasks your office does. To start scheduling, this information needs to be added to a calendar.
Add your daily, weekly, monthly, etc., tasks to a calendar – we’ll look at tools that help with this in a moment. This will help you to establish an operating rhythm and help your PMO team get into a routine.
You’ll already know who will be doing what, this solves the “when” of getting the office’s complete workload covered each week.
2. Refer to the project pipeline to add in events
The workload of your PMO team will fluctuate in line with project activity. When new projects kick off, everyone will have more work to do to get the project ready with the right documentation and ready with support for the project team.
As well as the one-off tasks that you need to add to the schedule, you may need to allocate extra time for data gathering or report writing if there will be more projects being managed by your PMO.
One the flip side, be aware of when projects close and if you can reduce the time spent on regular tasks whilst waiting for a new project to kick off.
3. Understand your team’s preferences
Remember that there is a human element to your PMO schedule. You need to make sure that you work with your team to make a schedule that works for them.
This is both in terms of the tasks being manageable, which you’ll have addressed in the planning stage, as well as workable within their needs and constraints. For example, some people might prefer to get their data gathering done at the start of the day whereas others might want to write reports first thing in the morning.
You can also take this opportunity to assess whether flexible working patterns will work in your PMO. When you understand when tasks need to happen, you may find that offering different working patterns is possible and this can help meet the needs of your team.
4. Take dependencies into account
Dependencies are something your PMO will be familiar with when scheduling projects. The principle is the same – you need to understand what tasks can only be completed once others are. However, in your PMO schedule, this can be an ongoing process.
Take budget reporting, for example. You need spending to be logged, the information to be pulled, the data to be visualised, then passed to be analysed. All these tasks need to be scheduled after each other and with enough leeway for a margin of error.
5. Use the right tools for your PMO schedule
No doubt you’re familiar with a range of tools available to help you create a project schedule, such as:
- Gantt charts
- Cloud software tools
- Your own, in-house solutions
These can be adapted to help manage your day-to-day office schedule too. Be sure to choose a time management tool that will work on an ongoing basis with weeks and months that you can easily duplicate.
PMO scheduling and time management
Getting your PMO time management right will take some different processes to managing time for a project, although there will be transferrable elements. Our five tips for scheduling should improve your PMO time management and keep your office on track.