Building a PMO: Four Key Considerations
By Kristyn Medeiros
Whether your PMO is brand new or has been around for years, the vision is one of the key components. Without it, each person is beating to their own drum and moving in a different direction. Powerful and guiding, a clear vision will align everyone to make sure we’re all moving towards the same goals.
How do you go about creating a vision? This seemingly daunting task isn’t so bad when you break it down in to pieces. In this checklist of considerations, we’ll walk through structuring your PMO vision. If your PMO already has a vision, put it to the test by seeing how it stacks up against our criteria below.
Consideration #1: What is the scope of departments/teams the PMO will interact with?
PMOs can work with one department or many. For example, an IT PMO will provide project management support to all of IT, including teams like Infrastructure and Application Development. Sometimes an IT PMO member will work on a business project, but focus solely on the IT portion of it. Widening the scope of support to the entire organization, an Enterprise PMO (EPMO) strategically aligns with larger goals and objectives of the organization. It may also manage and oversee multiple PMOs.
More and more companies who are moving from silo PMOs to an EPMO. Once a single PMO has established good processes and practices, the value to the organization can be maximized by applying the proven best practices to the entire organization. Whichever type of PMO you are part of, clearly define what teams your PMO will work with and level of support and involvement.
Consideration #2: Have key stakeholders or executives reviewed and validated the vision?
If your executive leadership team is not already on board with the PMO, sharing the vision with them will help them see the value. Many leaders once had to create visions too, and may offer some guidance or bring to light aspects that you had not considered. They will validate the level of process and rigor, the governance method, and key metrics to track. These details will be factors in the vision, so it’s necessary to understand where your executives stand on these points. Make sure the conversation includes joining the PMO vision with company culture, philosophy, and mission.
Your PMO vision may even be geared towards process improvement, streamlining, and standardizing, all which will support how the leadership wants to move the business. Ultimately, getting executive buy-in isn’t just a recommendation; it’s a must.
Consideration #3: Are the PMO goals aligned with the business objectives and annual Strategic plan?
All across the world, companies are moving to a top-down approach when it comes to defining their governance model and aligning initiatives to the larger goals. This is key to keep in mind as you define your PMO vision, giving note to where your PMO team is on a maturity scale. Even less mature organizations see the value of the top-down approach, but do not have internal support to make it happen. As you consider your vision, think about where you want the PMO to be in five years, and where the organization as a whole will likely be too.
One common PMO goal is to transition from a cost center to a value center, especially in the IT industry, to show benefits realization to the business, beyond saving money. Without alignment to the strategic goals, the PMO is unable to make this transition. Whether by providing funding for headcount or project management training, demonstrating that your vision supports the direction the business is moving in will ensure that key stakeholders and executives continue to support the PMO.
Consideration #4: Is your vision consistent with the culture of the PMO?
Will you mandate a certain software is used? Require PMO team members to track time against all their work? The level of rigor and structure you’ll put in place is critical to consider from the beginning. Once you set it, it’s tough to change. How much authority you give your project managers also sets the tone for level of trust and respect. The more structured and firm the standards are reflects that you may require your team to have a higher level of project management maturity. If this is not the culture, consider easing up on the required level of detail and process, at least until a later time.
Another aspect of this is approvals. Will the project managers be able to staff their own project team, or need approval from the Resource Manager or Functional Manager? Are phase or gate approvals necessary to serve as checkpoints throughout the project? Is documentation required to be completed before a project begins? All these approval questions need to be considered upfront and set in stone, otherwise you’ll have a very frustrated team.
As you can see, there is a lot here to digest and think through when creating your PMO vision. It’s critical to think about the larger organization, as well as the impact on the day to day life of your team. With so much to consider, where do you start? My advice is to lock yourself in your office for a few hours and start writing thoughts and answers to each of the four considerations that we covered. You won’t get it all figured out in one sitting, but getting the juices flowing is a great start.
As a Senior Solutions Consultant at Innotas, Kristyn Medeiros brings a wealth of experience and industry knowledge with her. Prior to Innotas, she worked as a Project Manager for eight years in networking and infrastructure, as well as application design and development. Kristyn holds several project management certifications, including Project Management Profession (PMP), Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) and Certified ScrumMaster (CSM). She has a degree in Computer Science from Colgate University and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.