A Rainbow of Different Purposes for Your PMO

Purposes for Your PMO: In our previous post about PMOs, Program or Project Management Offices, we discussed the different flavors of PMOs. We made an assertion that everyone has one, but some are informal, rather than formal. And, the informal ones can be at least as effective as the formal ones. In this post, we discuss the different purposes of your PMO.

PMO Purposes

This summary list of purposes and services for your Program or Project Management Office (PMO) is from our customer services. I usually offer it as a coaching session for organizations that wish to establish or extend the effectiveness of their PMO.

PMOs exist for many reasons; among them:

  • Executive managers need better visibility into project status
  • Complex programs require full-time administration
  • Projects need lower risk and better results
  • You decide to manage priorities and resources better
  • You wish to house and provide internal Project Manager for all larger projects
  • Teams need central sharing and support of PM Methods and Metrics
  • A tough one: we just bought the new software, and need to figure out how to use it …

High-Level PMO Functions

Understand your purpose to reap the maximum benefits. Then, given your purposes and reasons, here is a sample list of the high-level functions your PMO could support:

1. Executive Information and Portfolio Management Support
2. Program Control and Administrative Support
3. Project Planning Support
4. Project Audit
5. Project Control Support
6. Project Team Support
7. PM Competence Development
8. Project Management Tools Support
9. PM Process Management
10. Project Manager Contracting

Services For Functions

For each of these functions, you should a identify, prioritize, and implement the services that will help the most. For example, for function 1, above, Executive Information and Portfolio Management Support, the services could include:

1. Executive Information and Portfolio Management Support
–Perform or support Strategic Planning Alignment
–Evaluate Portfolio Requests
–Prioritize Enterprise Projects
–Allocate cross-project resources
–Track and optimize funding and resource use
–Re-allocate Funds or Resources, when needed
–Monitor and Evaluate project performance
–Maintain Executive dashboard for all Programs and Projects

Too Many Useful Services

Clearly, a well-positioned PMO could perform many useful services. In helping our clients to improve PM Performance, we often find that they try to change too many things at once. That always damages the outcome, rather than producing a more-effective PMO. Instead, we help a PMO and its Sponsor to identify the small handful of improvements they will implement.

How do we narrow down the list? Several ways; we evaluate the ease of implementation and the value to the organization for the contender improvements. Instead of implementing the 50-70 PMO services in the above 10 functions, we look for the best 5-7. Then, for the top-rated services, we establish an action plan for their implementation. We follow up with a measurement plan to assess (and correct, where needed) the benefits.

Narrowing down the services can begin with selecting several of the ten functions. Then, select the one or two services from each function that provide the greatest benefit. Below we identify three of the most-frequently-implemented PMO Functions and their complete list of services.

3. Project Planning Support

–Kick-off projects with Rapid Initial Planning®
–Perform Risk Assessment (at multiple Risk Assessment Points)
–Provide Expert Estimating
–Offer estimating consulting
–Maintain and update scalable PM methodologies
–Store and tune reusable process and product templates
–Maintain estimating metrics
–Share Lessons Learned from other Projects

4. Project Audit

–Perform product review e.g., PASS®
–Check process at milestones, e.g., PASS
–Perform spot audits of project processes
–Review project reporting for accuracy
–Do closure follow-up, Benefit/Cost review
–Retrieve and share lessons learned
–Use Project Audit results to track PM Maturity
–Perform ongoing oversight

7. PM Competence Development

–Assess all project stakeholders using PM Competence Model
–Establish Competence Development Plans for each project stakeholder
–Apply pre-/post- Skills Needs Assessment for class-specific measurement
–Assess resulting project performance improvements
–Perform continuous learning and coaching
–Coordinate use of Managers and practitioners as coaches
–Coach, support, and reward achievement in advanced Performance-based PM Certification.

The Pitch

Some of our best friends don’t think much of PMOs. In part, this is due to poorly-thought-out implementations, or miss-matches between mission and style. Others do appreciate their strengths, and flourish with them. The choice is up to you.