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PMO, where to start?

Lost your head

Source: ManicMorFF

Project management is something that’s taking more and more place amongst organizations. It’s gaining maturity and evolving greatly, always trying to keep up with projects who evolve themselves (and fast!).

In the struggle to put in place project management best practices and standardizing it across the whole organization which is why the PMO (Project Management Office) is becoming more and more common. From small PMOs, to bigger ones, they are earning their place amongst businesses, and have proven to raise the efficiency of projects overall.

This being said, setting up a PMO is easier said then done, there are many challenges to face.

So where to start?

Well, think of it as a project, the first you would do is gather requirements, right? Do just that by talking to managers and project managers, and assess together what are your needs. Once you’ve identified what you want, including the issues you want to fix, then you can review the 5 major PMO types and select a path that’s right for your team.

Derek Singleton, an analyst at Software Advice, has shared with me some of his knowledge on the subject:

“For companies that aren’t familiar with the concept of a project management office (PMO), it can be difficult to understand the various types of PMOs and which project structure each is best-suited to help.

By breaking down and defining the five major PMOs types, we help organizations and PMs better understand the use cases for a PMO–and if their company needs one.

A PMO can help a business organize and execute their projects more efficiently, but it’s important to choose the PMO model that matches your organization’s needs.

For instance, if a PM finds that administrative tasks prevent completing the larger tasks at hand, a project-support PMO can offer support needed to allow PMs to dedicate themselves to the actual project rather than filing paperwork.

Meanwhile, a larger company might have several projects within one branch that are not completing on time. In this case, a departmental PMO to help prioritize projects in order of importance.”

If you are thinking of implementing a PMO where you work, make sure to do this right, and make sure expectations towards the PMO is clear for the whole agency, otherwise, the PMO will lose its buy-in and may be removed completely.

It’s something you will be doing step by step, just like a project; do not expect perfection within one day, this a long-term investment that’s great to have in place. If possible, building the PMO while the business is small is easier since small teams adapt faster. It could then evolve with the business as it grows. Implement this inside a big organization may prove to be more challenging, but it’s definitely possible.

Here is also a great article on the 5 types of PMO proposed by the PMI:  Do You Need a Project Management Office (PMO)?

Have you been thinking of building a PMO? Or have you done so in the past? Share your stories!

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What’s a PMO?

PMO stands for Project Management Office. Since it’s objective & responsibilities vary from company to company, it is not necessarily easy to understand what it is.

So what is it?

The typical definition of a PMO is a group of people or department in an organization that is responsible for defining and maintaining project management standards. Note that in smaller organization, even one person could be considered the PMO.

Their responsibility may go beyond that:

  • Portfolio management: Either by participating actively to the management of the portfolio or being fully responsible for it;
  • Resource management: They may have the responsibility of managing who works on which project;
  • Actual project management: they will either manage all projects or the most important ones;
  • Documentation / templates: Can also include which PM tools are used; and
  • Project managers’ training: Making sure the efficiency of project managers satisfy the projects’ needs.

Also good to note

  • A variation called PgMO exists, which Program Management Office. The idea is the same but applies to programs instead which are groups of projects that share similarities that make them more efficient to manage as a group rather than individual;
  • A PMO can have authority within the whole organization or just a department. Therefore, it is possible to have more than one PMO inside an organizational.
  • To complement the item above, it is also possible to have a PMO that manages the departmental PMOs.

What’s in it for Project managers?

  • Great way to share opinion, and gain knowledge from others;
  • Work in an environment where project management maturity is higher;
  • Receive help if required;
  • Career opportunities can rise within the PMO;
  • etc.

In conclusion

PMO are a good sign that an organization as reached a certain maturity with project management, therefore it can be something that project managers seek when looking for a job. As long as objectives are clearly defined for it, PMO greatly rises the success rates of project overall. On the other hand, a poorly defined PMO can add useless overhead to projects, and have a negative impact.