Conducting a PMO Health Check (Part 1)

Michael R. Wood is a Business Process Improvement & IT Strategist Independent Consultant. He is creator of the business process-improvement methodology called HELIX and founder of The Natural Intelligence Group, a strategy, process improvement and technology consulting company. He is also a CPA, has served as an Adjunct Professor in Pepperdine's Management MBA program, an Associate Professor at California Lutheran University, and on the boards of numerous professional organizations. Mr. Wood is a sought after presenter of HELIX workshops and seminars in both the U.S. and Europe.

From time to time, most organizations benefit from stepping back and taking a fresh—and 360-degree—look at how effective they are in adding value to their stakeholders. This health check process applies to the overall organization and to its operational units, including the PMO.

PMOs are tasked with managing the project assets of the organization throughout the project lifecycle: assessment of the project, prioritization of the project portfolios, project execution and evaluating the project after deployment in terms of the value it actually delivered. Thus, it stands to reason that the health-check process should evaluate the PMO in terms of how well it functions in context to that lifecycle.

The complication comes as most PMOs are not structurally organized around the project lifecycle process as that would create needless silos within the PMO—and would most likely be cost ineffective. However, PMOs do perform project lifecycle activities—and it is in those activities (and the policies and practices followed) that a health check can take place.

To help you in your health-check efforts, I have provided a number of dimensions, each comprised of a number of components to consider. I believe they represent a good starting point. Don’t have a PMO but want one? No problem. The concept can also be used to help in developing a PMO from scratch.


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