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PMO Best Practices, Part 2: Start Where You Are & Know What You Need

Quick Reference:

  • Start with what you have. Determine how projects are managed right now, and then start to consider what you'd like the process to look like in the future.

  • Choose your PMO structure. What is the scale of your dream PMO? Is it for a singular project, for the organization overall, or somewhere in between?

  • Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate. You won't know if your PMO is working unless you stay connected with it. Conduct a maturity assessment at the start of implementation, and then re-evaluate at the six month, nine month, and 12 month milestones.

  • Ask for help. Overwhelmed by the process of building or implementing a PMO? Book a meeting with us to get the ball rolling.

 

So you’ve decided to implement a PMO on your team, or are updating an existing PMO.


Where should you start?


Get comfortable with this phrase: PMO as an integration of people, process, and technology. Yes, tools are important and we are experts in recommending and implementing the right tool for your solution. But your PMO is bigger than the tool you’re using; it's about leveraging technology to build a process that gets the right information to the people who need it.

That means that in order to implement, stand up, or update a PMO, you need to do more than evaluate the technology available. You need to understand your process needs, consider PMO frameworks, and then evaluate how your PMO works in the long term.


If this sounds like a lot of work, it is – and we can help!


Read on to learn our tips for overhauling your PMO, and head over to our contact page to connect with us on building or leveling up your PMO.


Start Where You Are

We know it sounds cliché, but our biggest tip for implementing or revamping a PMO is to start with what you have. There are some key questions you can ask yourself to get started on your PMO overhaul:


1 - What is your current project process?

Even if you don’t have an existing PMO in place, we’re willing to bet there is some process around how projects are managed. Maybe it’s as simple as your executive or manager sending you an email info about a new project, or maybe your team collects all projects in a group meeting and divides them up together.


Really dig in and consider how projects come in, and include that in your initial analysis for your PMO.


2 - What do you want your project process to be?

Dream big here! Do you want automated update requests and approvals? Would your dream PMO include visibility for stakeholders at every level? Would you keep your PMO specific to your team or department, or do you want something that works for the whole organization?


Understanding the scale of your PMO is an essential part of building a system that works.


3 - What problems do you need to solve?

This one is usually the easiest to work through, because most teams know what’s getting in the way of their work. An example here might be that there’s no way to track and analyze the success of projects, so you don’t know if your process really works. Or maybe your team or organization has struggled keeping projects on time and within budget.


Get clear on what exactly needs to be addressed in your PMO so that you have direction when its time to build.


4 - How do you get there?

Now that you have a vision, consider the road ahead to turn your PMO dreams into reality. In our experience, implementing a PMO can be a transition that takes weeks, months, or even years to complete, so it's important to understand what is needed to implement your specific PMO needs.


This is a great time to ask for help, so that your team or organization can focus less on building and implementing the PMO, and more on utilizing it for more successful and streamlined projects.


Know What You Need

We are firm believers that PMOs are not one-size-fits-all. When setting out to build or update your PMO, there are a few different structures that you can choose from. And once you know what structure you need, you can begin to discern the functionality or "persona" of your PMO.


We've worked with companies of all sizes to build, implement, and upgrade PMOs, so we know there are as many structures as there are companies. That being said, here are a few options we see come up again and again:

  • Department PMO: This PMO structure will dictate how projects are managed for an entire department of a company.

  • Project PMO: A small, but mighty PMO option! Sometimes creating a PMO for just one project can make a world of difference in project success.

  • Organization-wide portfolio: Does your entire organization need an overhaul in how it manages projects? This is the option for you.

  • Center of excellence: Another way to look at this PMO structure is in terms of "knowledge management." This PMO serves as a hub for information on best practices.

  • Project support: This PMO takes more of a consultative office approach, and serves as a resource for people or departments who need project managers.

After you understand what structure your PMO will follow, we find it helpful to consider PMO functionality by “persona”. For example, your PMO could be...

  • Supportive: Supportive PMOS collect and provide procedures and templates. They allow best practices to be followed with minimal control.

  • Controlling: Control-oriented PMOs assure that processes and standards are being followed through, and often include performance reporting and metrics for monitoring project workflows.

  • Directive: directive PMOs provide all aspects of governing projects, and often include project prioritization and resource management

Every organization will have different needs and requirements for their PMO. To determine the structure or function of your PMO, consider your company size, the complexity of projects, the structure and culture of your organization, and the maturity of your project process.


Evaluate Your PMO Maturity

As you work through the process of implementing your PMO, we recommend evaluating its functionality and maturity as it evolves. We conduct a maturity assessment with our clients at the start of a PMO implementation process and revisit the evaluation at the six month, nine month, and twelve month milestones after implementation begins.


We break maturity levels down into a framework of “Crawl, Walk, Run.” Here’s how they differ:

  1. Crawl – in this stage, the name of the game is standardization. Start with your project intake and data processes; do you have a single place where projects and ideas are located, or are they listed in different tools or workspaces? Is data consistent across projects and departments (e.g. what is required for a project to go live)? Start to draw out a map of your project process right now so you have the big picture of everything, and identify areas that can be consolidated or streamlined.

  2. Walk - If your PMO is at this stage, you’re likely evaluating project methodology. Notice here if you have a streamlined methodology that applies to all projects, or different methodologies for different types of projects. Also, what are the processes for approval workflows and adoption? Having these details ironed out is a sign of a mid-level PMO maturity.

  3. Run - In the run stage, your PMO is being utilized for all projects and your focus should be on prioritization and optimization. Think of this as streamlining and consolidating; does your PMO incorporate automation for time-draining tasks? What measures are in place to


From a high level point of view, implementing a PMO begins by getting clear on what processes are already in place and establishing your needs. From there, you can work within a PMO framework to tailor your solution to support your project, team, or organization as a whole.


Think you'd like some guidance on implementing a PMO? That's what we do best – give us a shout to learn how we can help.

Stay tuned for the next blog in our series, PMO Best Practices, Part 3: Addressing Challenges to dive into the next stage of putting your PMO into action!

 

Quick Reference:

  • Start with what you have. Determine how projects are managed right now, and then start to consider what you'd like the process to look like in the future.

  • Choose your PMO structure. What is the scale of your dream PMO? Is it for a singular project, for the organization overall, or somewhere in between?

  • Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate. You won't know if your PMO is working unless you stay connected with it. Conduct a maturity assessment at the start of implementation, and then re-evaluate at the six month, nine month, and 12 month milestones.

  • Ask for help. Overwhelmed by the process of building or implementing a PMO? Book a meeting with us to get the ball rolling.


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