In our jobs as project managers, we often find ourselves thrust into situations requiring us to share our knowledge to help others be successful. But that is not a problem for us: it’s an opportunity to help others become leaders - a main tenet of servant leadership. And what stronger leadership is there than a PMO formed through a mix of best practices from credible sources, collaboration and consensus among the PMs in your organization?
So you are an excellent project manager and your skills have been recognized: a high success ratio in the projects you manage, high technical expertise, outstanding interpersonal skills and an ability to boil complex theory down into comprehensible, practical and applicable processes in your organization. You have been chosen. Now it is time to set up the PMO.
There have been been many books and articles written on how to set up a PMO and how to make it successful. There have also been many written on why PMOs fail, the types of PMOs and whether a PMO should be a provider of good practices or a provider of PM services. You must be well aware of success metrics for your PMO. You must learn lessons from those who have tried and succeeded or tried and failed, and you must know the type of PMO you have been mandated to create.
PMs are a strong-headed bunch. They are in control of their own project organizations, often have a lot of autonomy, and may (believe it not) actually be resistant to change, much like many people in a multitude of organizations. So, you will be challenged with inviting their input, collectively separating the wheat from the chaff, having them feel they have had input and have been part of gaining consensus on ways to change to improve project success rates without undue process and fanfare.
There are a few things I feel require particular focus:
- Identifying all the PMs in the organization and treating them as you would any key stakeholder in a project - communicate business objectives and intent, involve them, consult with them, and gain consensus on important items.
- Using industry standard processes, tools and templates (PMI is a great source), but tailoring them to the organization, not just branding, but in content and use. One size does not fit all.
- Implementing a training, certification, mentoring and coaching program so that help is always at hand, and everyone knows how to get it.
- Installing a PM vernacular that matches the processes, tools and templates you are together espousing and socializing it within your organization’s PM Community.
- Establishing a repository for all things PM, preferably online and mobile-friendly, making sure the entry point is highly visible, linking it to your organization’s main entry point to such applications.
- Making the entry point usable, engaging a user experience expert to design, for example, graphical, clickable and easy to use interfaces.
- Creating a PM community within your organization and holding regular meetings allowing PMs to showcase their projects, share lessons learned and discuss leading edge PM topics, in person or virtual or a combination of the two.
- Establishing a virtual collaboration space for PMs, where lessons learned can be shared, where help can be requested and where virtual mentoring can take place.
These are just a few items to consider, of course. A final critically important note is to set up monitoring processes to ensure your PMO has high adoption rates and a robust sustainability plan. How will you monitor its use? If it is not used, how will you fix it so it is? How will you ensure it remains fresh with continuous updating? How will you ensure PMs stay engaged in the community you collectively created?There is more, of course, and I am sure some of you will share your experiences and lessons learned here.
Here’s to the establishment of your vibrant, well-adopted and fully sustainable Project Management Office!