Project Smart ~ Exploring trends and developments in project management today

Calendar icon
Adobe PDF icon

The Successful Project Management Office

~ By Brad Egeland

Project management office meeting

The varieties of Project Management Office (PMO) models seem nearly endless. I've joined companies that already had them, helped organise one for a company I was already at, and consulted with smaller organisations who were just trying to get their PM processes off the ground. I believe there is no guarantee for success with any model. It's how the organisation values the PMO and the role of the PM, in general, and how the supporting organisations interact with the PM that plays a significant role in the PMO organisation's success.

In general, the PMO is the central organisation that is staffed with skilled delivery Project Managers providing oversight and leadership services during the planning and execution of the projects within an organisation. Whether all projects go through the PMO or just the most visible or the projects with budgets higher than 'x' dollars, that's up to the individual organisation.

The main tasks of the PMO and the PM in preparation for and during an engagement are:

  • Project Planning
  • Project Scheduling
  • Risk Analysis
  • Project Tracking

Project Planning

Project Planning may be undertaken by another entity, senior leadership or Sales, but I fully believe that the PMO and the assigned PM should be an integral part of this process. Sadly, that is not always the case. Project Planning involves the estimation of the size of the project and the timeframe and resources it will demand. The outcome of the Project Planning activities are usually a price to the customer and a project that is ready to be kicked off.

Project Scheduling

The act of Project Scheduling, or creating a detailed project timeline, may actually initially take place during the sales process as a way to show the customer that the organisation understands the undertaking and has the resources and the timeframe to perform the work. This is another reason why PM involvement in the sales process is critical. In simple terms, Project Scheduling is the act of breaking the project down into detailed tasks, mapping them out with a project scheduling tool such as ProjectOffice.net or MS Project and setting milestones and performance indicators.

Risk Analysis

Risk Analysis should be performed by the PM team, lead by the Project Manager, and preferably with solid input, if not outright involvement from, the customer side project team. Risk Analysis is the act of identify potential project risks based on known and anticipated factors, weighing their probabilities, identifying possible risk mitigation actions, and putting them into some device or spreadsheet for on-going tracking purposes.

Project Tracking

Project Tracking becomes the sole responsibility of the Project Manager. This involves on-going weekly status reporting, leadership of weekly status meetings, monitoring and revising the detailed project schedule/plan, monitoring the team's execution against it, and all the necessary communication that makes those tasks possible.

All successful PMOs feature four basic components:

  • The right processes
  • The right tools
  • The right people
  • Executive level organisation support

I've seen PMOs with the right people, the right tools, or at least visions for building or acquiring the right tools, and seemingly the right processes, yet they have failed because executive management did not share the vision of the importance of the PMO in the organisation or they didn't stay with it long enough to help ensure success. I guess I would have to say from a personal standpoint, that may be the key ingredient. You can always hire different people. You can bring in consultants to help define better processes or identify better tracking tools. But without the executive-level support, none of it will happen or at least it won't succeed.

Conclusion

The PMO is more than the staff that performs the project activities of planning, scheduling, communicating with the customer or ensuring the project delivery. Successful PMOs make an impact on organisational success by performing the following tasks:

  • Aligning project delivery with strategic business goals and priorities
  • Requiring that every project have an effective PM
  • Implementing an appropriate PM methodology
  • Consistent management and oversight of the project portfolio
  • Obtaining and maintaining company leadership support

Brad Egeland is an independent IT Consultant with 23 years of IT industry experience as a software developer and manager including 17 years of Project and Implementation Management experience. He is married with 7 children and lives in Las Vegas, NV.

This article was used by permission from PMTips.net - the original article can be found here The Successful Project Management Office


Comments (1)

Topic: The Successful Project Management Office
5/5 (1)
Gravatar
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star
3rd November 2014 2:05pm
Dan Strayer (Heywood) says...
Great article Brad. If I can just add some metaphors to emphasize an effective PMO design and deploy service, one good one I've discovered describes the project management office as similar to a central nervous system in project management capability. That, combined with the patience of Job, IS the job - only with time and commitment to the process (i.e. at least a 4-5 year expectation process) can one truly understand the returns. So it's not for the corner cutting/fast results types: rather, it's a solution that is realised only when the tree is bearing fruit 5, 10 or 15 years and beyond.

Add a comment



(never displayed)



 
2000
Enter the third word of this sentence.
Notify me of new comments via email.
Remember my form inputs on this computer.

Project Management Maturity Model

Five maturity levels concept

The concept of a project management maturity model has evolved considerably from the software industry. Where does your organisation sit on the maturity model?

Demand a Strong Project Plan

Gantt chart

What to look for to advance your consulting projects from contract to execution.

How to Become a Project Manager

Senior lecturer in front of his class

If you're new to project management don't be bamboozled by all the jargon. This article sets out the skills needed to become a competent project manager.

Undertaking a Successful Project Audit

Audit checklist clipboard with checkboxes marked for related concepts

A project audit provides an opportunity to uncover issues, concerns and challenges encountered during the project lifecycle.

PROJECT SMART is the project management resource that helps managers at all levels improve their performance. We provide an important knowledge base for those involved in managing projects of all kinds. With weekly exclusive updates, we keep you in touch with the latest project management thinking.

WE ARE CONNECTED ~ Follow us on social media to get regular updates and opinion on what's happening in the world of project management.


Latest Comments

Christee commented on…
The Role of the Project Manager
- Wed 6 June 7:33am

Jennifer commented on…
Introduction to Project Management
- Tue 22 May 3:51pm

Kelsey commented on…
How to Create a Gantt Chart Using Microsoft Excel
- Wed 9 May 3:41pm

Latest tweets

General Project Management • Project Management Software/Program https://t.co/P0i0pHFnK4 about 1 month ago

General Project Management • Re: Identification System for Project Management Methodology https://t.co/NFpZ4re9ix about 1 month ago

General Project Management • Re: Project Management Interview With Presentation https://t.co/UEmX0YxHLq about 1 month ago