If you want your project management office (PMO) to deliver projects on time, you need to have good time management in your office, too. In our guide to PMO time management, planning is the first step we’re going to look at.
Managing time and schedules looks different in an office with an ongoing task rather than in a project with a start and end date. Some elements will feel familiar, but the continuous work of a PMO does sometimes need a different approach.
To help you get your PMO time under control and your office working smarter, not harder, we’re going to look at:
- Understanding the tasks within your PMO
- Seeing where the major issues come from
- How people affect your PMO time planning
Through six steps to planning your time wisely in your PMO.
Step 1: Review your activities
To get a solid grip of the time used in your PMO, you first need to know what exactly your PMO does. You’ll have a range of activities like reporting and analysis that is done regularly.
Dive into the work of your office and note down tasks that are:
These will be plugged into the schedule that we’ll be talking about in a future post.
You also need to look at the project pipeline and see what’s coming up that will need your office time, such as project opening and project closing.
Step 2: Learn activity timings
You need to know how long each task your office does will take. It’s unlikely you’ll understand the exact timings of everything, so you need to consult with the people completing the tasks.
You may have other data that can help with this too. If your office uses screen recorders for remote teams or has everyone log their daily activity, you may have independent information to go off.
Figuring out how much time will be spent on each task – both the regular activities and project-specific ones – will help you create a realistic schedule.
Step 3: Figure out scope creep
Scope creep is a familiar risk in projects. It can happen within your PMO as well, and you need to understand the drivers to be able to plan for it.
Planning for unknown risks might feel impossible, but you can build an understanding of it into your time management in your PMO. Look at past tasks that came in unexpectedly over a year or six months and understand what they were and how much time they took to work through.
This will give you a good idea of the contingency you need to plan into your schedule.
Step 4: Understand upcoming changes
Some changes will be known ahead of time, and you can plan for this. You may be changing from using Gantt charts to Microsoft tools in the next year or starting to use SAP, for example.
These changes will be known about and you can plan extra time for your PMO to get used to them and hopefully less time in the long-run since changes should be making your work more efficient.
Step 5: Assign tasks to the right people
Your human resources in your PMO are valuable. It’s their hard work that will ultimately have projects delivered on time.
At the planning stage, you need to gather details about the people who are skilled to complete the tasks and activities that you surfaced in the first step. You want to ensure you use your people wisely and don’t have experts retrieving basic data that would be better done by an admin assistant, for example.
Step 6: Ensure you have the right skills
Related to the previous step, you need to plan to have the right skills on hand for the activities your office undertakes. Planning your project timings into the future will help you understand your resourcing need.
There may be a tranche of projects all delivering around the same time, and you’ll need to have more time available to handle the closure processes, for example.
At this stage, you can also decide if you’ll need to bring in freelancers or outsource some of your PMO functions and focus on key deliverables of the projects under your control.
Planning time management in your PMO
When planning time management in your PMO, you need to get a full understanding of everything that will take up the time of the people on your team. Getting the groundwork in place with strong planning will ensure the rest of your time management strategy is effective.