Top 10 Tips for PMO Setup
Tip 1: Start with a "virtual" PMO. For many organizations, not just small ones, a "virtual" PMO can be a great way to start. In the "virtual" PMO model, a sole individual or very small team is tasked to quickly get things set up and started, such as processes, polices, tools, and dashboards, etc, with minimal debate and distraction. Once set up, the manager of the "virtual" PMO, who may or may not be a manager leveled individual within the company, continues to maintain, improve, and promote the PMO to ensure that it meets the needs of those served by it and is positioned to take on further PMO responsibilities with time and success.
Tip 2: Establish a PMO Charter. Seek to establish a charter for the PMO that sets the tone of the organization and of the value add delivered. To start, keep it simple and ensure the participation of others in the development of the charter for "their" PMO. Where possible and measurable, align the charter of the PMO to enabling, facilitating, and achieving the key business objectives of the firm such as revenue growth, time to market, cost containment, customer satisfaction, productivity, and quality.
Tip 3: Beware of "Community of Practice" black-holes. A project management "Community of Practice" offers the promise to PMOs of increasing project management knowledge and skill throughout the organization. However, in far too many cases, the focus and effort to create a "Community of Practice" takes on a life of its own and becomes a black-hole in the organization where too much work goes into it and too little results come out of it. Seek balance to ensure that a "Community of Practice" initiative quickly adds value and leverages already existing works, rather than becoming an exhaustive, self-centric, effort unto itself.
Tip 4: Keep it simple. First and foremost, bear in mind that few PMOs have had start-up difficulties or have failed because things were too simple. Rather, complexity and too much detail in things are likely to be a far greater problem and contributor to execution difficulties and potential failure. So, be realistic and be balanced. Keep things simple, at least to start. A good foundation can enable lasting success and continual improvement. For example, don’t worry about sophisticated processes at first, but at getting the basics in place. Birth precedes maturity.
Tip 5: Seek to fully use what you already know and have. When setting up a PMO, there can sometimes be a rush to evaluate and implement new tools, in particular PPM tools. This rush to judgment can often result in selecting a tool based more on vendor supplied criteria rather than specific business use case needs of your PMO. Seek to first fully utilize the tools, platforms, and capabilities that you already have. Then, based upon your identified needs and improvement opportunities, evaluate vendor tools and service offerings that best serve your PMO.
Tip 6: Think processes, not methodology. Few people will read methodology documents. And, usually, they are static and quickly become out of date. Methodologies often give an illusion of project management consistency, when in reality most users find them too detailed to use or too time consuming to follow. Focus on net, streamlined processes that answer not just the "what is to be done", but the "who, when, where, how, and why" of the work effort as well.
Tip 7: Establish the components of your PMO architecture. There is no one vendor application or tool that does everything for your PMO, nor should it. Identify all of the tools, technologies, and services that support the project management office such as desktop applications, server applications, collaboration platforms, internal and external informational sites and services. Align project management maturity and capability maturity objectives with improvements to the architecture. Seek to first use the lowest level of technology architecture that gets the job done.
Tip 8: Identify what type of technology buyer you are. No one vendor has a lock on the market when it comes to tools and applications for your PMO. Nor can any one vendor give you an automatic guaranty that their offering is truly the best for your PMO and set of needs. So, when it comes to buying technology there are several factors to consider. One of the most important factors is the type of technology buyer that are you. Are you highly innovative and prefer to implement brand new technologies? Are you an early adopter? Or do you fall into a buyer type of early majority, late majority, or even a laggard? There is nothing wrong with any of the buyer types. In fact, you need to align your technology acquisition strategy and purchases with the buyer type that is best for your company and working environment. By understanding and knowing your buyer type, you can purchase and implement the vendor offerings that are best for you whether that is the latest bells and whistles or a time-tested, mature product that already enjoys an established customer base.
Tip 9: Use PMO dashboards to drive the PMO strategy. Many people think of PMO dashboards as something you can only get when you purchase a complex and costly PPM application. The dashboards that you get from your PPM tools, for the most part, are excellent, but don't limit your dashboards of key PMO information to only that of your PPM application. For one, not everyone in the organization will be authorized or have access to your PPM application. And two, you will no doubt want to "push-out" key PMO information and measurements to the executive and leadership team that may not be, or ever be, contained in your PPM application. Use PMO dashboards to drive your PMO strategy.
Tip 10: Create a journey, rather than destination, mindset. Sometimes, those that make up an organization can be too impatient for immediate success when it comes to the introduction of change. Whether implementing new systems, new programs, or new policies, often the introduction of change will not be a walk in the park. Usually, those with a destination mindset are too quick to rush to judgment and too quick to become frustrated when things do not work quite right. Establish a journey mindset within the organization that sets an expectation up front that execution difficulties are to be expected and should serve as input to get things right and not a reason to give up on the journey.