Project Management

Five Basics of a PMO Implementation Plan

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Categories: PMOs


I often say that establishing a project management office (PMO) is not for the faint of heart. It is a very difficult endeavor -- not just because it involves advanced knowledge, but also because it challenges status quo in the organization. 

In my previous post, we discussed The Must-Haves of Establishing a PMO. Now we are going one step further by laying out an implementation plan. Implementing a PMO involves five basic -- but essential -- sets of decisions:

1. Current State Assessment

  • How many projects do we have today, and how are they being managed?
  • Are their results satisfactory? 
  • Do we really need a PMO? 
  • What type of PMO?
2. Future State Vision

  • What functions will be performed by the PMO?
  • What results do we expect from the implementation?
3. Gap Analysis

  • What do we have right now in terms of project governance, methodology, infrastructure, human resources and software?
  • What do we need to implement a PMO that delivers the expected results?
  • How are we going to handle change management, stakeholder expectations and cultural aspects?
4. Implementation Strategy 

  • What is the scope of the implementation?
  • What are the barriers, enablers and risks of this implementation, and how are we going to deal with them?
  • Are we going to hire a consultancy?
  • Do we start a small pilot and grow it through quick wins? Or do we set up for global, company-wide implementation?
  • What are the implementation's critical success factors?
5. Implementation Plan

  • What is our roadmap for implementation?
  • What are the implementation's phases and key milestones?
  • How many resources do we need? 
  • How much will the implementation cost?
  • How do we guarantee the PMO's sustainability? How are we going to measure its performance and improve it?
Not following these steps can result in serious problems. For example, if we don't conduct a gap analysis, we will probably end up with an unfeasible plan, disconnected from reality. 

I once participated in a PMO implementation that was doomed to fail under the original plan. The future state vision was nearly impossible to reach, considering the current state of the organization. While conducting the gap analysis, it became clear that we should lower our expectations to implement that PMO. In that particular case, it was necessary to implement a rudimentary PMO to kick-start a cultural change to embrace project management. That was the chosen implementation strategy, which led to a feasible implementation plan supported by key stakeholders.

In my next post, we'll dive deeper into these five steps with best practices and examples on how to carry them out. 

What other questions do you think are helpful to ask of your organization when building a PMO implementation plan? 

Posted by Mario Trentim on: February 06, 2014 10:13 AM | Permalink

Comments (5)

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Excellent article, thank you!

So true, the setup and establishment has to follow a define "project plan".

This is a pretty predictive approach. It might seem too much for an organization to do. There is the option of taking a more adaptive approach: implementing a very specific item and then gaining support for the next.

You seem to hint about such an approach when gauging the gap and finding it too big.

In the implementation plan, there is the "What?", there is the "How?", the "How Much?" and I would add the "Why?" (justification) and the "When?" (roadmap) for it to be complete.

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