PMO - a quick guide

Over recent years, more and more organisations have recognised the value of setting up a dedicated project management office (PMO).  The reason for this is that organisations with a PMO see a marked increase in the successful delivery and realisation of benefits from their projects.

When an organisation decides that they want to set-up a PMO, they usually ask a project manager or line manager to set it up.  Unfortunately, in many cases they have no prior knowledge and don't know where to start.  This results in a function being established that is unclear on mission, purpose, objectives and scope.  This in turn means that it adds very little value and is not supported by the project managers.

  • Step 1 - Define the objectives of the PMO
  • Step 2 - Sponsorhip (make sure there is a strong sponsor for the PMO)
  • Step 3 - Define the tools and processes for the PMO
  • Step 4 - Design the PMO Organisational model
  • Step 5 - Engage and communicate with key stakeholders
  • Step 6 - Establish the regular PMO routines (such as monthly reporting)
  • Step 7 - Capture all of the above into a PMO charter

Remember, there is no right or wrong answer.  The aim is to approach the construction of the PMO with the appropriate level of rigor.  You should also remember that you are designing the PMO for your organisation.  Therefore, what may be appropriate for one organisation may not be appropriate for another.

As you design the tools and processes, always consider the purpose and value.  If a process or tool does not pass this test, it is not needed.  Taking this approach will help ensure that the PMO is practical and pragmatic.  It also helps reduce the project managers pushing back claiming that the PMO is trying to implement bureaucratic processes that add no value and take them away from the important role of delivery.

Finally, periodically review the tools and processes of the PMO.  What may have been fit for purpose at the start may no longer work.  Don't be afraid to make changes, it is a sign of a mature PMO.




How to design a PMO that works
Credit: Simon Wilkinson