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Topics: Organizational Culture, PMO, Portfolio Management
Building a PMO
Hello! I'm looking for some advice or a recommendation of good resources for building a PMO. I am the only Project Manager in my organization and I've been tasked with the PMO development but it seems like everyone who has decision making authority visualizes the PMO differently. My biggest fear is failure and I want to make sure that my vision of the PMO supports a solid foundation for making sure it is successful. With that being said, I was hoping I could ask you all to share your experience and knowledge with me by responding to a few of my questions.

(1) Should the PMO manage the organization's Business Plan and be involved in the prioritization of all projects; even those that do not fall under the PMO.

Currently, our HR team oversees the Business Plan and the vision of some Executives is that they will manage the Plan and only involve the PMO as projects are delegated to me.

(2) Do you have any recommendations on a method used to prioritize projects?

Currently, the Executives are determining what projects to manage and who should manage them based on discussion and agreement between the group.

(3) Is the PMO typically involved in the process from ideation to when the project is assigned to a Project Manager?

Currently, leaders in the organization are engaging in contracts with vendors before we determine need and stakeholder requirements. After a contract is signed, the project is delegated to the PMO at which time I work with stakeholders to create a Business Case. My goal is for us to have a process for identifying need then create a Business Case. With this in mind, when should the PMO be involved?
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Creating a PMO is the same than creating a new business unit: organization has to define the functions/process to use as part of its strategy then put them inside a business unit, call it PMO. What you describe, mainly in the last paragraph, to put it in terms of the PMI, is a mix between business analisys and project management then you can go for both standards. Just a comment based on my understanding of you wrote: your organization has to change the mind in the sense organizations are not running projects, they are creating solutions to business problems where solution is "the thing" (product/service/result) plus "the way" (project) to create it.
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1 reply by Sandra Orlando
Sep 21, 2022 9:20 AM
Sandra Orlando
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Thank you for your insight. I appreciate the simplicity of your suggestion in terms of building a business unit by defining functions and processes.
Sandra,

it is a good sign if many stakeholders have requests towards the PMO. Much better than nobody really cares.

You could do a stakeholder analysis and per 1:1 interviews gather the requirements. Probably lots of them overlap and you could ask all about key requirements (what does delegation of projects really mean to them, what support is needed to prioritize projects, is project selection/initiation something that should be decided by all rather than the sponsor or the PMO).

The requirements of the PMO sponsor have a priority, if there is a sponsor.

Once you have a list of prioritized requirements (backlog), share it, let it approve by the sponsor and work on it top down (maybe in 3 months sprints) according the PMO resources. Report on progress and risks publicly. Talk to key stakeholders often.

After 3 months, everybody has a better understanding and a reshuffle of the backlog will be necessary, cycle starts again.

Get a mentor from outside the company.

Good luck

Thomas
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1 reply by Sandra Orlando
Sep 21, 2022 9:24 AM
Sandra Orlando
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Thanks Thomas! I appreciate the step-by-step breakdown to managing this project. Great suggestions and definitely takeaways that I can implement into what I'm working to build.
To be honest, it depends on the organization and ....
The answer to all 3 questions is the same. You define the structure of PMO within the organization and everything is possible.
It's funny how the only PM is tasked with setting up a PMO. Who's doing project management whle that person is setting up a PMO?
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1 reply by Sandra Orlando
Sep 21, 2022 9:30 AM
Sandra Orlando
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Ahh...very good question! I'm doing it all; I manage projects, I built and trained managers on the Project Management structure and tools, I consult those same managers as they manage their own projects and I am monitoring outcomes and continuing to build the PMO. Fortunately, my organization is extremely respectful of my priorities and project load. I am able to set boundaries and say no when my plate is full. After spending just over a year managing projects and showing value, the development of the PMO has become a high priority. Now the Executives are working to hire additional PMs so I can focus more of my time on continuing to build the PMO.
This webinar may provide some of the answers you seek: https://www.projectmanagement.com/videos/7...ue-creating-pmo
I found it to be very helpful.

1) the PMO should have a seat at the table and have a voice in defining / supporting / implementing the organization's business plan and should definitely be involved in the prioritization of the projects as the PMO has the best view of the project landscape (the PMO can be (perhaps should be) an integrator and coordinator of project (value delivery) activities across the organization)
2) business value / customer value (value in general) could be useful mechanisms for prioritizing projects
3) my opinion is yes, the PMO should be involved in the project development process but after ideation (not every idea will result in a project...some will be tabled and some will not be worth pursuing. Unless you are the primary source of project ideation, you don't need to spend a lot of time in this realm. Other functionals may be better positioned to evaluate the ideas, but you can support idea evaluation if desired or if time permits.) and before PM assignment. The PMO should be in the PM recommendation or assignment role as part of the coordinating and integrating function.
Hope this helps. Good luck!
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1 reply by Sandra Orlando
Sep 21, 2022 9:33 AM
Sandra Orlando
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Thanks for sharing the webinar with me. I will definitely watch it. I appreciate your insight and agree with all of your bullets; i.e. how involved the PMO should be.
If you search for "Business Driven PMO", here on projectmanagement.com, you'll find a lot of good content. Mark Price Perry, author of some of the content and a class you can take, also has a book with this title.

Another approach I am partial to can be found on the PMO Global Alliance website. They have a free membership that gets you access to some of their tools and training. I found it useful at my last employer. I'm the only PM, currently (no PMO), so I'm borrowing some concepts, but taking it slow as I'm the first PM the company has had, and there is plenty to do.
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1 reply by Sandra Orlando
Sep 21, 2022 9:36 AM
Sandra Orlando
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Thank you! I will definitely look into the PMO Global Alliance tools and trainings. Sounds like you and I are in a similar situation; first PM. Good luck!
In questions like this I keep going back to "why do this?". What problem are we trying to solve? An answer to this question goes a long way towards a solution.

Project management is a methodology applied to successfully deliver a project. It achieves this by identifying and mitigating risks and enhancing benefits in the delivery process. A Project Management Office provides structure so as to consistently deliver successful projects.

Building a PMO is the same as delivering a project (it IS a project) - define the objective (why?), identify the risks to all management elements (cost, schedule, scope, quality, procurement, risks, resources, communications, etc) and develop mitigating measures (processes and structure) that will address these risks.

To do this first you look at what is currently in place then see what improvements could be made by adopting processes and structures available from external sources such as PMI and others.

If, at any time, you don't see a benefit or can't convince others of a benefit, close it down. A poorly conceived PMO could be much worst than no PMO.
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1 reply by Sandra Orlando
Sep 21, 2022 9:40 AM
Sandra Orlando
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Great advice! And you are right....we have to be mindful of what we are creating or the PMO won't be successful. Thanks!
My advice is to be very interested in organizing the resources of the projects and how to distribute them well and provide them with the necessary information and tools because they consume the largest part of the budget, which makes a real difference to the senior management, which will greatly enhance your chances of success
Best regards
Aug 13, 2022 8:45 AM
Replying to Sergio Luis Conte
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Creating a PMO is the same than creating a new business unit: organization has to define the functions/process to use as part of its strategy then put them inside a business unit, call it PMO. What you describe, mainly in the last paragraph, to put it in terms of the PMI, is a mix between business analisys and project management then you can go for both standards. Just a comment based on my understanding of you wrote: your organization has to change the mind in the sense organizations are not running projects, they are creating solutions to business problems where solution is "the thing" (product/service/result) plus "the way" (project) to create it.
Thank you for your insight. I appreciate the simplicity of your suggestion in terms of building a business unit by defining functions and processes.
Aug 14, 2022 8:57 AM
Replying to Thomas Walenta
...
Sandra,

it is a good sign if many stakeholders have requests towards the PMO. Much better than nobody really cares.

You could do a stakeholder analysis and per 1:1 interviews gather the requirements. Probably lots of them overlap and you could ask all about key requirements (what does delegation of projects really mean to them, what support is needed to prioritize projects, is project selection/initiation something that should be decided by all rather than the sponsor or the PMO).

The requirements of the PMO sponsor have a priority, if there is a sponsor.

Once you have a list of prioritized requirements (backlog), share it, let it approve by the sponsor and work on it top down (maybe in 3 months sprints) according the PMO resources. Report on progress and risks publicly. Talk to key stakeholders often.

After 3 months, everybody has a better understanding and a reshuffle of the backlog will be necessary, cycle starts again.

Get a mentor from outside the company.

Good luck

Thomas
Thanks Thomas! I appreciate the step-by-step breakdown to managing this project. Great suggestions and definitely takeaways that I can implement into what I'm working to build.
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