Project Management

PMO Leadership: How to Develop a Strategic Plan for Your PMO

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Categories: PMO Leadership

Strategic (adj) / relating to a plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal.
PMO Comics, by Mark Perry

Not too long ago, I was asked by a CIO to help him and his to-be-named PMO Manager with their Strategic Plan for the PMO. My response to him was, “you have a Strategic for the PMO, that’s great. You know many PMOs don’t really have a Strategic Plan.” We both laughed a bit and then he explained his problem to me.

The to-be-named PMO Manager created a Strategic Plan for the PMO and reviewed it with the CIO. It contained a mission statement, objectives, and critical success factors. The mission statement, in essence, stated that the mission was to (1) provide project management assistance to the organization, and (2) to implement a project management system and methodology. To me, that is not a mission. The Objectives section of the document listed out three areas; planning process, control process, and management, and it described activities within each of these three areas. But nowhere within the list of objectives were any kind of “how much, by when” declarations. The Critical Success Factors area of the PMO Strategic Plan was almost exclusively centered on establishing a Project Management Center of Excellence, providing project management training and mentoring, and implementing the project management system. Whether or not these things were truly critical success factors for the Strategic Plan of the PMO, or were the most critical, was in effect not possible to discern as the success factors were not tangibly related to any of the objectives.

So, at the end of the day, the CIO was pondering a Strategic Plan that basically entailed implementing a project management system, establishing a center of excellence, and providing training and mentoring. And what did the CIO think about and see in the plan? He saw cost, cost, cost, and more cost. And how could the CIO answer the CFO when the CFO asks him about the benefits and value and the potential payback or return on investment? The PMO Strategic Plan that the to-be-named PMO Manager created was of no value to the CFO, nor to the CIO, and in reality, it was of little value to the PMO.

So how do you create a PMO Strategic Plan that does provide value? Well, first of all, recognize that the Strategic Plan for the PMO is not the PMO Charter. The PMO charter is the organizational mandate for the PMO. It defines the role, purpose and functions of the PMO. It articulates who the PMO's sponsors and customers are, the services that it offers, and the staffing and support structures required to deliver those services. And, it assumes that a decision to have a PMO has already been made. And second, align the Strategic Plan for the PMO to the needs of the business for which the PMO exists to serve. For example, when you do this, providing project management assistance to the organization and implementing a project management system is not the mission. They are not even objectives. Rather, they become strategies in support of the goals and objectives to be achieved.

To create a results-driven Strategic Plan for the PMO, it is helpful to follow a top down format. The most commonly used and accepted format is the classical strategic planning outline. This outline consists of the following:

  • Vision - this needs to be a vivid and common image
  • Mission - this is the special assignment that is given to a group
  • Goals - these are broad statements of future conditions
  • Objectives - these are operational statements that indicate how much and by when
  • Strategies - these are the set of actions that need to take place
  • Needs - these are the things required to carry out the strategy
  • Critical Success Factors - these are the key areas of activity in which favorable results are necessary in order to reach the goal

The benefits of following this outline are many fold. First, you answer some very straight forward questions that any business unit needs to be able to answer. Second, you speak a common strategic language that will be understood from the members of the business unit to those the business unit supports and on up to executive management, especially the CFO. And third, you place in the proper context of the strategic plan those things that make up the strategic plan, the components. For example, a goal isn’t to implement a project management system or to establish a project management center of excellence. The project management system is likely to be a need that supports a strategy. Likewise, the project management center of excellence is likely to be a strategy to support an objective. Important to note, in developing your Strategic Plan, you don’t have to start at the top and go down to the bottom in top down order all in one setting. Often, it is helpful to brainstorm as a small team or individually to come up with a number of ideas. You might first focus on just the vision component. You might be surprised to find out the differing views on what the vision of the PMO ought to be.

For any business organization, it is quite important to have these things - a common vision, an unambiguous mission statement, goals, and for each goal specific objectives that are measurable in terms of how much by when, and so on. If you follow this kind of an outline, you will have a Strategic Plan that makes sense and can be used at all levels of the organization. If not, you might end up with a list of good ideas for your PMO that your management may, or may not, be able to support, fund, and act upon.

Posted on: June 25, 2008 04:44 PM | Permalink

Comments (21)

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Hi there -- do you have any examples of a PMO Strategic Plan?

Sure. Regarding developing a PMO strategic plan, have a listen to The PMO Podcast Episode #263: Business Driven PMO Success Stories, Chapter 5 - Techniques for Establishing a PMO Mandate. This is an audio recording of Chapter 5 of Business Driven PMO Success Stories - Across Industries and Around the World. I would be happy to send you the PMO planning template referenced in this chapter. Please note, many folks advocate (and I agree) not sending out examples or generic PMO strategic plans as until the purpose of the PMO is first established, there can be no sensible discussion of PMO strategy. Hence, that would be putting the cart before the horse. I would be happy to help you with your own PMO strategic plan, based upon your own PMO mandate. Feel free to email me at if that would be of interest. My id is markpriceperry. I can also highly recommend Harlan Bridges who is very good at PMO strategy. All the best - Mark

Thanks Mark -- I listened to the PMO Podcast. Thanks for sharing. Would you be able to send me the Planning template you referenced? Got any other Episodes worthy of listening to as they relate to setting up a PMO?

Musikluv - I can't find you on gantthead/ Not sure why, perhaps your profile is not set up... please feel free to send me your email address or create a projectmanagement,com profile so I can email you. Thanks..! - Mark


Any chance you can share this template with me? I tried the links above but they do not seem to be active.


Yes, thanks so much for the note. Here is the new link to the PMO Podcast directory of episodes.

One of the most important statements in the article is, "align the Strategic Plan for the PMO to the needs of the business for which the PMO exists to serve." Hear, hear!

Doy you think that problems to solve could be express more than benefits of a program that create a framework to develop different innitiatives focused on generate value to the business?

Angie, yes, that is sequence and the way many leadership teams go about doing it. The ends to be achieved is the generating value to the business. The means to the ends is the framework. Thanks.

Hi Mark thanks for your answer . Could you please send me the PMO Business Plan Templante

Thanks in advance

Angie, I would be happy to send you the template that I have. Since I can't attach from here, I will send you a message to your userid. Thanks - Mark

hi Mark,
I'm very happy to have landed on your page as a resource when searching for PMO Charters except that's not exactly what I need .. As soon as I figure out which / how many podcasts I want to listen to at BOT International, I am interested in connecting with you regarding your Processes on Demand / PMO Setup product(s). I have been tasked with setting up a PMO and project intake process at a local community college so am looking at tools as well as templates / processes.
Do you have any tips / templates for a PMO Mission Statement or Vision?

Thanks Mark for the insights.

Having read the article, I am wondering if you have a sample of a good example of a PMO Strategic Plan.



Thanks for the blog and subsequent comments.

Really enjoyed.

Mark I purchased your books but they don't have any templates and I would rather not reinvent the wheel. Can you please email me strategic plan templates / docs?
I am at [email protected]

Mark - This article is extremely very helpful! Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I am hoping you can kindly send me the PMO Strategic Plan templates? I can be reached at [email protected] or [email protected] Thanks so much!

hi Mark, pretty old post already - I have tried out the link to the podcast but it is not working. Can you please update or let me know whether it is still available? many thanks, Petra

Nicely written. Can I get the template please?

I appreciate it if someone in this forum can resend the template, thank you!

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