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Topics: Agile, Governance, Government, Strategy
Standing Up a Small PMO
I am a federal employee that joined a new agency (I left my old GOV position) due to my project management background to assist with standing up a small PMO. We are taking on a major initiative working with several business units (BU). Our BU is not responsible for any development work, but we are working with the Dev's to ensure they have the correct requirements. Because we are not managing the development, what suggestions are there for standing up a small PMO to track project doc's and manage these initiatives? The Gov't is not as structured as private org's but we are trying to establish and maintain PM methodologies.
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My suggestion would be to contact other government agencies or departments that do have PMOs. You should be able to leverage what they have to get your PMO going.
I think Stephane has provided a good suggestion. I wonder if defining the goals and objectives of your PMO is a good place to start - as in "What value do we want to add and how/can do we do it". Last year on this forum there was an article published based on the premise that there are PMOs out there that are not sure what they are supposed to be you are well advised to have these deliberations...good luck!
I worked on both sides, goverment and private, and the problems are the same. First thing to do is to understand if project/program/portfolio management process and functions deserve being part of the organizational strategy. It does mean that they will address an existing pain then they will solve an organizational problem. When the organization understand that then it will decide if those functions deserves to be splitted along existing business units or deserve to create a new business unit, the PMO in this case. My final comment is: remember that process are implement thinking in architectural way then governance is on top of process itself.
I think Sergio is absolutely correct. Although we have been doing projects for a very long time, it is only recently that we are linking projects, programs, portfolios to strategic initiatives and benefits management. To be successful ultimately, start with a robust governance structure.
Forgot to include this link, but as it states, we are expecting policy updates soon.
1 reply by Ricardo Sanchez
Aug 23, 2019 10:32 AM
Ricardo Sanchez
thank you for the link. It appeared to be an outline of a PMP.
Aug 23, 2019 10:04 AM
Replying to Steve Ratkaj
Forgot to include this link, but as it states, we are expecting policy updates soon.
thank you for the link. It appeared to be an outline of a PMP.
Not really, but you can find more here including a template for a PMP..
Ricardo, have also worked on both sides...still am. My local Govt leadership is struggling to understand the true role of the PMO, and their role in not only PM management, but having input into the long term direction of the organization.

Suggest that if the organization has a strategic vision, or even the higher HQ has a strategic vision, you have the PMO team understand how the projects they are providing oversight to fit into that vision..

Also suggest a conversation with your leadership to discuss projects/efforts that don't fit into a strategic path...

My opinion is that you'll need to show value to the SBUs. They've been executing their operations and change initiatives to this point on their own so your team will need to always ask yourselves the question "What can we do for the business?". A couple of things to start with:

1. A sound tollgate process designed with the customer in mind (i.e. Initiation, Planning, Enter UAT, Exit UAT, Pre-deployment, Close) is important. However, I would concentrate on helping the business complete the items on the tollgate checklist and show them why it is valuable to the quality of the initiative/project. Ultimately, that's what the business really wants--quality. Timelines and cost objectives are negotiable, but QUALITY isn't

2. Hire experts with a wide variety of experience. When you are working with cross-functional teams there is a quantity of experience but also a qualitative element of experience that can't be explained/quantified. For example--bringing on an expert who can speak to the KPI's of finance, operations and engineering is a person who is a foot deep AND a mile wide. I would search for these "T" shaped people versus the "I" shaped narrow experts (The DevOps Handbook, (2016). Kim, Debois, Willis, Humble).

3. Set up your office and your operations as a conduit of information not a bottleneck. What I mean is that the PMO templates and processes can sometimes slow the business down. They need to be catapults and aids that help grease the rails for the train of innovation. Adhering to numbers 1,2 above may help to facilitate this.

4. Above all--I think we need to have an attitude of servant leadership with the business units we serve. One can be a servant leader without having a title. I serve in my organization by helping the business achieve their schedule and communication goals. The processes tend to fit the people through that lens (not the other way around).

Best wishes for your success & thanks for the question!!
If the PMO is strictly focused on a single program, then it is a program office and not a portfolio/project management office. In that case, it should be there to help establish a suitable governance model, and to provide reporting and advisory support to help the program manager and component project managers succeed.

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