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Can You Describe the Perfect PMO Meeting?

~ By Jennifer Whitt

Project management office meeting

I think I can.

First, let me give you the context of the company in which this particular Project Management Office (PMO) was operating. It was a mid-sized software development company that was broken down into four separate channels of business. All projects were run through the PMO. Resources from each department reported to the Functional Managers directly and the PMO worked closely with the Functional Managers.

Every Thursday morning (in my opinion, the perfect time for a weekly PMO meeting) we would meet. Over time, the agenda we used was honed to the following four topics:

  • New Best Practices Review (up to 10 minutes)
  • New Project Review (up to 20 minutes)
  • High Risk Assessment (up to 20 minutes)
  • Deployment Schedule Review (up to 10 minutes)

The following provides further detail for each topic. I would expect that with slight modifications in each area, this could be used in businesses that are not in the IT field as well.

The New Best Practices Review would consist of best practices that had been implemented over the previous week. These were based upon Lessons Learned from projects that were in their closing phase. This could be anywhere from a new approval process or workflow, to a different way in working with clients. There would be minimal discussion as the details had been vetted out prior to the weekly PMO meeting and this was presented as "this is how we will now be operating."

The New Project Review allowed anyone that wanted to introduce a project to the PMO to submit a one page summary that provided a brief description of the project, the business objectives that were supported and the benefit this new project would bring to the organisation. It was then open for brief discussion or questions and the project was either approved to move forward (for example…paying client work), turned down on the spot, or put out for further research to be revisited the following week.

The High Risk Assessment portion of the meeting utilised a high-level milestone report that showed the Red, Yellow, Green status of all projects within the organisation broken down by business unit. There was zero time spent on anything that was going as planned due to the fact that professional project managers were managing the work. This portion of the meeting focused on exception management and only projects that were in trouble were discussed. Decisions were made on these projects, obstacles were cleared and risks were mitigated.

The final part of the meeting was the Deployment Schedule Review. Since we were a software development company that worked with business users, our deployments would be done over the weekends. A schedule was provided of the upcoming deployments that were up to one month out with a particular focus on the upcoming weekend. This included any code that was being deployed, hardware upgrades or maintenance or anything else that would possibly touch the production system.

A key component to making this successful was having the right people in attendance. We would have the Project Managers, Functional Managers and Executives that could make the decisions on the spot in attendance. If you find yourself during this meeting saying "we have to check with…" then you don't have the right people there.

That was it. Week-in and week-out we were able to step up the level of our professionalism, review and approve new projects, mitigate risk and get everyone on the same page - all in about one hour per week.


Jennifer Whitt is a speaker, trainer, Certified Performance Coach, author, and company president of PDUs2Go.com. She is a PMI-certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and knows how difficult it can be to make time for classroom or online learning so she has developed a new way for Project Managers to Earn n' Learn while on the go. For more information, please visit http://www.pdus2go.com


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