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PMOs and Law Firms: Lessons from the Field – Lessons Learned (#5 in the series PMOs and Law Firms: Lessons from the Field)
By Ronald K. Thomas of Baker Robbins & Company

People

  • Build a PMO team that consistently provides value to the firm.
  • Make sure you have the right personnel for the job. Each PM should have the right mix of soft skills and technical skills to facilitate and manage projects.
  • Support your PMs in becoming the internal consultants that managers trust to fully understand and meet their business needs.
  • Don’t skimp on technical, management and soft-skills training for project managers.

Standards, Methodologies and Processes

  • Develop project management standards that meet your firm’s needs and organizational structure.
  • Establish methodologies and processes that match your firm’s culture and the way you work. If the way you work is not successful, change the process.
  • Once your methodologies and standards have been established, accepted and approved, follow them.
  • Use lessons learned to improve your methodologies and processes.

Resources

  • Create forms and templates that PMs can use to jump-start their projects.
  • Consider using project portfolio management software to alleviate the pains of managing and tracking multiple projects
  • enterprise-wide.
  • Create a knowledge library that project managers can use to improve project processes and implementations.

Establishing a PMO can be a difficult proposition for law firms. The department is an overhead function, and it requires some effort to justify its creation. The effort is well worth it in the long term. Most importantly, you need senior management support. A PMO cannot exist inside or outside the IT department without it. An implementation plan that takes your firm’s culture and organization into account and that has strong management support can help make your PMO a success.

This article was first published in ILTA’s July, 2007 white paper titled “Project Management — Broadening Your Scope” and is reprinted here with permission. For more information about ILTA, visit their website at http://www.iltanet.org.

Ronald K. Thomas is a senior consultant and experienced project manager with Baker Robbins & Company. Ron authored the article, “Coaching the Team: Here Is a Game Plan that Works” in the February 2005 issue of Peer to Peer. He also facilitated an ILTA webinar on project management titled, “Setting Up A Project Management Organization: What Is It; Is It Right For You?” He can be reached at rthomas@brco.com.

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