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Key Steps to Implement a Project Management Office

~ By Michael L Young

Project management office meeting

What Is a PMO?

A PMO is a centralised, co-ordinating body within an organisation (or project) that provides a focal point for the field of project management. It can identify and address project management issues to support and facilitate the achievement of organisational project outcomes.

What Are the Benefits of Having a PMO?

According to Gartner (2008), investments in a Project Management Office (PMO) as a work management discipline can provide common planning and reporting processes and bring structure and support to evaluating, justifying, defining, planning, tracking and executing projects. It also encourages the resolution of conflicts caused by limited resources and other constraints.

We've all seen renegade projects that seem to run according to their own agenda. A PMO can help organisations create effective control and oversight of projects and integrate them with the overall business outcomes.

Some of the benefits of instituting a PMO include:

  • Establishing an enterprise focus on improvement in project management competency
  • Developing or enhancing project management skills and knowledge through training or mentoring
  • Ensuring consistency and uniformity in project delivery
  • Reducing project overruns and increasing delivery speed
  • Increasing customer satisfaction through achievement of outcomes
  • Archiving project operational and performance data
  • Providing a centralised point of reference for the project management practice

What Functions Can a PMO Undertake?

The kinds of functions undertaken by the PMO can vary widely. It will depend largely on the organisations': size, project success, maturity, project experience, level of available skill, exposure and the level of executive support for project management generally.

In some ways, what the PMO does depends on how innovative the organisation wants to be. Some of the functions a PMO might typically manage include:

  • Review and approve project requests and allocate funding
  • Develop standard project processes, tools and templates
  • Establish and contextualise best practice methodology
  • Develop common expectations and language
  • Allocate project staff and manage all projects centrally
  • Provide training, certification and coaching to build core project management skills
  • Track the status and achievements of all the organisation's projects
  • Advocate for project management and provide education within the organisation
  • Manage project prioritisation and governance

What Is the Process to Follow to Introduce a PMO?

Launching a PMO is just like any other organisational change project and should be approached as such. In Transformed's experience there are a number of key steps that need to be undertaken to create a PMO that works for the organisation.

1. Establish the Role, Scope and Outcomes

The role of the PMO will be different in every organisation. It is important to consult widely with stakeholders to establish their ideas and needs and to determine how and where the PMO will fit within the organisation.

2. Review Existing Projects and Skill Levels to Identify Needs

Often the incentive for establishing a PMO comes from a history of failed or under-performing projects. Examining recent and existing projects will identify skills and other gaps that the organisation can address through the PMO.

3. Plan the Implementation According to Needs

Once you have determined the purpose of the PMO and what it is to achieve you then need to prepare a PMO implementation plan.

4. Establish Procedures and Processes

Depending on the scope of the PMO it may require documentation of issues like: project approval processes, recruitment and training and funding management. Document templates may also be developed. Develop reporting mechanisms and timeframes: The PMO is likely to have a number of different reporting responsibilities. For example individual projects may need to report regularly to the PMO and the PMO may have to provide an organisational or portfolio report to the executive. To be effective, these mechanisms need to be agreed and established early.

5. Review the PMO

Of course as things change, organisations become more mature, methodologies emerge and structures evolve, the role and scope of the PMO must change as well. It is important to work with the executive to regularly review the PMO's performance and scope so it remains current and relevant to the organisation's changing business needs.


Michael Young is Principal Consultant with 'Transformed' - Project Management Unleashed. Contact Transformed for information and assistance in conducting stakeholder analysis.


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