Understanding the type of PMO that needs to be established
PMOs can be established to serve a specific purpose. According to the Program Management Office Handbook, prepared by the PMO Special Interest Group (PMOSIG) of the Project Management Institute (PMI), there are five types of Programs:
- Strategic Programs – focus on work to align with the organization’s strategic goals and objectives.
- Operational Programs – focus on operations within an organization (specifically operational process improvement initiatives to drive operational effectiveness and efficiency).
- Product Programs – focus on a specific product.
- Functional Programs – align to a specific function of the organization such as service delivery or information technology.
- Enterprise Programs – generally high-risk programs that span the organization and impact multiple business units, operations and functions.
Each of the above types of Programs could have their own PMO within an organization. In an organization with multiple types of PMOs, it also makes sense to establish an Enterprise PMO. The enterprise PMO would institute a central taxonomy, maintain a central repository of processes, templates and documentation, and provide centralized training and mentoring.
Determining the PMO’s roles and responsibilities
Within a PMO, the specific roles and responsibilities can vary depending on the level of sponsor support and the stated goals and objectives of the PMO. A PMO can serve one or more of the following roles:
Mentoring and coaching
Process methodology definition and maintenance
Project monitoring and control
Governance support and strategic alignment
Reporting (Project and Management level)
Project selection and execution
Acquisition Management and Support
Life Cycle enforcement and reviews
Budget and resource estimation
Depending on which of the above responsibilities are selected, there will be an impact on the types of roles and the number of people involved. Generally, PMOs that provide guidance but do not actually have the responsibility of running projects or programs are not very large — perhaps 3 to 5 members. Is the PMO responsible for management reporting? Is the PMO responsible for ensuring that projects are following the defined life cycle? Is the PMO responsible for promoting effective and efficient operations? Does the PMO have portfolio decision-making authority? Or does the PMO support senior management by supplying information to help senior management make portfolio decisions (accepting, maintaining and removing projects from the portfolio based on performance or risk factors, etc.). These considerations will impact the size and structure of the PMO.
Obtaining senior management backing and support
Regardless of the difficulties and resistance to change, obtaining senior management support is the foundation upon which a successful PMO must be built. Obtaining executive support will also ease the change management challenges that come with instituting new project management processes.
Developing a communication strategy
PMO communication responsibilities can be two-fold. The first communication responsibility includes managing and directing communication within the project or program. The second responsibility entails the PMO to communicate out to the organization on the PMO’s goals and objectives. Depending on the level of senior management support, the second point may be critical to the overall success of the PMO. In an organization where the PMO’s direct level of authority is limited, the PMO might have to reach out to programs, functions and business units to let them know that the PMO is there to support them. This is common in PMOs that mainly promote process improvement, but don’t generally have the enforcement authority to ensure that all projects follow a consistent process.
Focusing on providing immediate value
Immediate value is critical, yet sometimes overlooked. There is no need to try to involve the PMO across all work products from the outset. It is better to start with one or two projects so that the work is manageable. This allows the PMO to show value to the organization quickly. Since the PMO is not a revenue generating operation, it must show that it is improving effectiveness and efficiency through solid performance metrics. By being able to provide and show value, the PMO can gain the confidence of management and the organization and ultimately become a trusted partner to management.
Ensuring Alignment with the organization strategy
As a PMO, ensuring alignment to the organization’s strategic goals and objectives should be forefront on the PMO’s list of priorities. PMOs have a responsibility to ensure that the organization’s work is aligned with its strategic objectives. PMOs must also ensure that they are in tune with the direction of the organization.
Quite often an organization will have the functional and technical resources necessary to establish and operate a PMO, but not the project management resources required to execute delivery of the PMO function. Litcom has the combination of resources, methodology, and assets ready to provide unbiased oversight and project transparency. For more information on how Litcom can help with your PMO needs, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org