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How to scale up the PMO?
I work for a financial institution that has implemented a PMO (very early stages). We have our governance set up, however, we are quickly growing and I'm looking for advice or feedback to consider when determining how to scale up the PMO. I'm familiar with organizing planned projects, but needs some help when reviewing project requests that come in outside of major projects that are planned well in advance, and how to structure the review of those requests as they come in. Also, any advice on when you know its time to hire more PM's and / or a system admin to manage the PMIS? Any feedback is appreciated. Thank you.
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You question can be answer from multiple visions. The first one is to take into account the enterprise architecture. Organizations are open and adaptable systems then enteprise architecture is critical to survive. The enterprise architecute is defined following the strategy. So, the common is to have business, applications, technology layers at a minimum inside the architecture. Each one can have its own PMO and on top of that, "sitting to the right of the father" is the EPMO (enterprise PMO). The EPMO integrates all layers for all portfolio/programs/projects inside the organization. An unique demand management process must be share by all the PMOs. Relating your second part of the post, to be or not to be a "project managers provider" depends on the type of PMO you have in place. In my actual work place we are project manager providers and we consider that each project manager can manage 3 projects at the same time then it is the indicator to decide when to hire or not a new project manager. About the PMIS, each portfolio/program/project manager must manage it having the needed information updated.
Angeline -

It is time to hire new PMs when the capacity you have insufficient for the legitimately concurrent level of work they need to manage. Ideally, as part of this you will be establishing a career path for PMs so that if you hire them at a junior level, they can progress to take on more and more responsibilities.

Quantify what the current effort involved with PMIS administration is and what the planned near term usage for it is likely to be - that will help you determine whether you need someone specifically focused on maintaining the tools. The complexity of the tools themselves will also be a good guide - some are too difficult to master (from an admin perspective) for someone to do it off the side of their desks. In general, the greater the utilization of the tools and the broader the scope of their usage, the greater the need for such support.

Finally as far as scaling up the services provided by the PMO, it comes back to the relative maturity level of the governance bodies and what their priorities are. If there is a need to expand the scope of the intake process, that will require more effort on the part of the PMO, the decision making governance bodies and those submitting projects for consideration. While you can staff up for the former, the latter two will likely be perceived as "more work", so the benefits will need to significantly outweigh the costs.

Kiron
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1 reply by Angeline Kelly
Apr 21, 2021 5:05 PM
Angeline Kelly
...
Thank you, this is very helpful. We have a team of 3 PM's, 2 of those PM's recently moved onto other roles in the organization and we hired 2 new PM's. We hire from within so they know the organization, but are learning the skill set and processes of a PM. Part of the issue is the time needed for the 3rd PM to mentor, train, and essentially handle all the large complex projects while the new PM's learn on projects that are small to mid level. It puts a strain on the veteran PM. I think we need to add another PM, knowing the projects that exist as well as what is coming down the pipeline, but how do you justify that when the question will be do you really know when 2/3 of your team is new?
Angeline

Kiron and Sergio provided solid advise but I would add one more thing: I feel you are at a stage now were you need to hire an SME or two to help with scaling your PMO. When the PMO maturity is low (Early Stages), scaling can be challenging in many ways.

RMK
"... needs some help when reviewing project requests that come in outside of major projects that are planned well in advance, and how to structure the review of those requests as they come in..."

This is a common issue at the beginning. From my experience, this part can not be controlled and planned 100%. There are picks and there are silent days.
Projects are coming all the time, some are pushed as urgent, and so on.

But constantly asking/reviewing the organization what is in the funnel helps a lot.

Also, I think each organization scales up in not linear fashion. Also in generating projects. There is a physical cap. Which is good.

We kept employing people into PMO until we reached a balanced workload - simply organization could not bring any more projects over what it was, so we do not need to scale up anymore.


At a certain moment we had to scale down a person or two, then got a new one again. But this is quite normal.

Of course, getting approval for employing people is always a challenge, but I believe You can justify it with the current bandwidth of people and project streams.
I watched a good webinar the other day that might help you:

Session 3: The Right PMO for You

https://www.projectmanagement.com/videos/5...ght-PMO-for-You
Apr 20, 2021 12:46 PM
Replying to Kiron Bondale
...
Angeline -

It is time to hire new PMs when the capacity you have insufficient for the legitimately concurrent level of work they need to manage. Ideally, as part of this you will be establishing a career path for PMs so that if you hire them at a junior level, they can progress to take on more and more responsibilities.

Quantify what the current effort involved with PMIS administration is and what the planned near term usage for it is likely to be - that will help you determine whether you need someone specifically focused on maintaining the tools. The complexity of the tools themselves will also be a good guide - some are too difficult to master (from an admin perspective) for someone to do it off the side of their desks. In general, the greater the utilization of the tools and the broader the scope of their usage, the greater the need for such support.

Finally as far as scaling up the services provided by the PMO, it comes back to the relative maturity level of the governance bodies and what their priorities are. If there is a need to expand the scope of the intake process, that will require more effort on the part of the PMO, the decision making governance bodies and those submitting projects for consideration. While you can staff up for the former, the latter two will likely be perceived as "more work", so the benefits will need to significantly outweigh the costs.

Kiron
Thank you, this is very helpful. We have a team of 3 PM's, 2 of those PM's recently moved onto other roles in the organization and we hired 2 new PM's. We hire from within so they know the organization, but are learning the skill set and processes of a PM. Part of the issue is the time needed for the 3rd PM to mentor, train, and essentially handle all the large complex projects while the new PM's learn on projects that are small to mid level. It puts a strain on the veteran PM. I think we need to add another PM, knowing the projects that exist as well as what is coming down the pipeline, but how do you justify that when the question will be do you really know when 2/3 of your team is new?
...
1 reply by Kiron Bondale
Apr 21, 2021 7:08 PM
Kiron Bondale
...
Thanks for the additional context, Angeline. While another PM will help in the near term, is their sufficient work to keep 4 PMs busy? If not, could you look at a contract PM to backfill for the veteran PM for the onboarding time period for the new PMs?

Kiron
Apr 21, 2021 5:05 PM
Replying to Angeline Kelly
...
Thank you, this is very helpful. We have a team of 3 PM's, 2 of those PM's recently moved onto other roles in the organization and we hired 2 new PM's. We hire from within so they know the organization, but are learning the skill set and processes of a PM. Part of the issue is the time needed for the 3rd PM to mentor, train, and essentially handle all the large complex projects while the new PM's learn on projects that are small to mid level. It puts a strain on the veteran PM. I think we need to add another PM, knowing the projects that exist as well as what is coming down the pipeline, but how do you justify that when the question will be do you really know when 2/3 of your team is new?
Thanks for the additional context, Angeline. While another PM will help in the near term, is their sufficient work to keep 4 PMs busy? If not, could you look at a contract PM to backfill for the veteran PM for the onboarding time period for the new PMs?

Kiron
...
1 reply by Angeline Kelly
Apr 22, 2021 10:54 AM
Angeline Kelly
...
I do believe we have enough work to keep for PM's busy. Organizations 1/3 of our size have 4 or more PMs. Do you happen to know or have seen an average number of projects per PM in your experience? I've usually seen no more than 2 to 3 larger more complex projects per PM at one time along with no more than 3 to 5 smaller/mid range type projects at one time. What are your thoughts?
Apr 21, 2021 7:08 PM
Replying to Kiron Bondale
...
Thanks for the additional context, Angeline. While another PM will help in the near term, is their sufficient work to keep 4 PMs busy? If not, could you look at a contract PM to backfill for the veteran PM for the onboarding time period for the new PMs?

Kiron
I do believe we have enough work to keep for PM's busy. Organizations 1/3 of our size have 4 or more PMs. Do you happen to know or have seen an average number of projects per PM in your experience? I've usually seen no more than 2 to 3 larger more complex projects per PM at one time along with no more than 3 to 5 smaller/mid range type projects at one time. What are your thoughts?
...
1 reply by Kiron Bondale
Apr 22, 2021 11:07 AM
Kiron Bondale
...
Angeline -

A lot depends on "what" a PM is expected to do, how much support they receive from their sponsor and key stakeholders, as well as the "heaviness" of the organization's PM standards and practices.

I've seen it vary anywhere from only one project per PM to up to five or six depending on the factors I listed as well as the complexity and other contextual characteristics of the project.

Anything over that, and the PM will purely be reactive or firefighting.

Kiron
Apr 22, 2021 10:54 AM
Replying to Angeline Kelly
...
I do believe we have enough work to keep for PM's busy. Organizations 1/3 of our size have 4 or more PMs. Do you happen to know or have seen an average number of projects per PM in your experience? I've usually seen no more than 2 to 3 larger more complex projects per PM at one time along with no more than 3 to 5 smaller/mid range type projects at one time. What are your thoughts?
Angeline -

A lot depends on "what" a PM is expected to do, how much support they receive from their sponsor and key stakeholders, as well as the "heaviness" of the organization's PM standards and practices.

I've seen it vary anywhere from only one project per PM to up to five or six depending on the factors I listed as well as the complexity and other contextual characteristics of the project.

Anything over that, and the PM will purely be reactive or firefighting.

Kiron
...
1 reply by Angeline Kelly
Apr 22, 2021 11:08 AM
Angeline Kelly
...
Thank you! This is very helpful!
Apr 22, 2021 11:07 AM
Replying to Kiron Bondale
...
Angeline -

A lot depends on "what" a PM is expected to do, how much support they receive from their sponsor and key stakeholders, as well as the "heaviness" of the organization's PM standards and practices.

I've seen it vary anywhere from only one project per PM to up to five or six depending on the factors I listed as well as the complexity and other contextual characteristics of the project.

Anything over that, and the PM will purely be reactive or firefighting.

Kiron
Thank you! This is very helpful!
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