Establishing a PMO

Establishing a Project Management Office
To fulfill their duty to ensure that their clients can make the best use of their time and resources, many IT consultants are taking the lead role in helping organizations establish formal project management processes that encourage the delivery of work initiatives on time, within budget, and to an agreed upon level of quality. Part of the ability to execute better, faster, and cheaper comes from the organization’s implementation of common processes and practices across the entire organization. That way, there is very little learning curve for the project manager and the team members as they transition from one project to another. The larger an organization gets, and the more projects that are executed at one time, the more difficult it becomes to enforce this organizational consistency. Without it, though, the full value of implementing a common project management methodology is not reached. Consulting firms tend to recognize this and usually have a common framework or a full methodology that all consultants use. However, this practice is not prevalent in other types of companies. This is where consulting firms that have experience with project management processes can help their clients. Often, a consultant will help establish a centralized organization responsible for various aspects of project management methodologies. This group may be called Project Office, Enterprise Project Office, Project Management Center of Excellence, or the Project Management Resource Team. In this download, in which we’ve compiled eight articles that have previously been published on TechRepublic, we’ll use the term Project Management Office (PMO).

1) Y2K projects brought PMOs to the mainstream
Although the concept of the PMO has been around for years, for many organizations the awareness level was raised with Y2K. Many companies, especially larger ones, realized that they needed to make a concerted and coordinated effort to ensure that their systems could withstand the Y2K cutover. The basic infrastructure of a PMO was implemented with a single-minded focus to coordinate Y2K projects. After 2000 passed, many companies disbanded the infrastructure, while others realized the long-term value in continuing to coordinate aspects of project management centrally. A PMO can offer many potential products and services, depending on the needs of the organization and the vision of the PMO sponsor (the person generally responsible for PMO funding). Before the PMO can be successful, however, it must gain agreement from the management team on its overall role and the general expectations it needs to achieve. A typical PMO is responsible for deploying a consistent project management methodology within the organization, including processes, templates, and best practices. This is not a onetime event, but a broad initiative that could cover a number of years. While a PMO demands precious resources, the hope is that the investment in the PMO will be more than saved by implementing common practices that allow every project within the organization to be completed better, faster, and cheaper. Since consultants tend to be further along in their adoption of common project management processes, many companies use them to assist in this effort. Here is a list of roles that a PMO fills within an organization and a way to outline the PMO’s influence in the client’s business.

The PMO value proposition
PMOs can be established to provide a narrow or broad set of services. This list includes many of the common responsibilities a full PMO would perform. In general, a PMO: 1. Establishes and deploys a common set of project management processes and templates, which saves each project manager, or each organization, from having to create them on its own. These reusable project management components help projects start up more quickly and with less effort.

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Projects at risk can also be coached to ensure they don’t worsen. Others want the PMO to provide a consolidated reporting view of all projects in the organization. with higher quality. major decisions can be evaluated based on whether they fit into your strategy. If the training is delivered by the PMO. deliverables. In our first few conversations. However. usually aligning the PMO to the value it provides to the business. Delivers project management coaching services to keep projects from getting into trouble. Some consultants specialize in these organizational assessments. That’s why consultants are brought in to you gain clarity and agreement on what you are doing and why. Tracks organization-wide metrics on the state of project management. Second. 3. The value of defining a logical organization is twofold.Establishing a PMO 2.techrepublic. This information is communicated to clients. and the value being provided to the business. They can facilitate the definition process and make sure that the resulting logical organization provides a firm foundation for the subsequent staffing and project execution. coaching services. the PMO deploys them consistently to the organization. Mission: The mission describes what the PMO does. project delivery. you must define how it will function within the organization. Builds the methodology and updates it to account for improvements and best practices. 6. and terminology. . and a staff of four people. First. cheaper. however. This includes actively educating and selling managers and team members on the value gained through the use of consistent project management processes. it became clear that the funding level and the sponsor commitment would only support a much more modest PMO implementation of one person. It’s a very general statement. 4. 5. stakeholders. For example. A recent client was facing this dilemma. Tracks basic information on the current status of all projects in the organization and provides project visibility to management in a common and consistent manner. and your own staff so that everyone starts with a common set of expectations. Inc. For example. Less misunderstanding and confusion occurs within the organization if everyone uses the same language and terminology for project-related work. 8. and within estimates and expectations. defining missions and strategies is something that most of us don’t do every day. After a subsequent meeting with the sponsor. An example of a PMO mission statement is: "The Acme Project Management Office (PMO) implements and supports project management methodology to enable our organization to deliver projects faster. this exercise provides a framework for the PMO to guide decision-making in the future. and for whom. Facilitates improved project team communications by having common processes. Provides training (internal or outsourced) to build core project management competencies and a common set of experiences. Building a logical organization The following major components define your logical PMO. you wouldn’t want to undertake any projects that didn’t help you achieve your organizational objectives." ©2003 TechRepublic. www. as new or revised processes and templates are made available. Acts as the overall advocate for project management to the organization. there is a further reduction in overall training costs paid to outside vendors. Before you can start a PMO. The PMO also assesses the general project delivery environment on an ongoing basis to determine the improvements that have been made. some companies rely on the PMO to be responsible for all areas of project management and project execution. Likewise. For example. we talked about common project management processes. how it is done. All rights reserved. This might be supplemented with consulting services to make sure the project starts off on the right track. Start creating your PMO through a formal organizational definition. 2) Build a PMO that makes the most sense to your organization There are almost as many varieties of project management offices (PMOs) as there are companies. a training curriculum. 7. Many companies have the expertise to perform this definition by themselves.

which doesn’t result in the creation of tangible deliverables. measurable. to help them meet their project and business objectives. realistic. Strategy defines how you’ll do things over the long term. principles. Internal stakeholders could include organizations you work with but which are not directly under the PMO umbrella.techrepublic. Products/Services: Products describe tangible items that the PMO produces. investors. it is important to recognize who the clients are. delivering project management training and coaching. Objectives: Objectives are concrete statements describing what the PMO is trying to achieve in the short term. These services include creating (or buying) the project management methodology. however.) While there may be many stakeholders. This doesn’t imply the creation of a full work plan. Services provide value by fulfilling the needs of others through contact and interaction. Clients: Clients are the main individuals or groups that request and use the products and services your organization provides. I’m going to make some assumptions about the services the PMO will provide to your client’s organization. many PMOs are established with a project. and providing consolidated project reporting and metrics. (These people may also be referred to as customers. Services refer to work done for clients or stakeholders. All rights reserved. a PMO is similar to a project and. . say three years. A well-worded objective will be specific. and government organizations. Most organizations. and others will use consultants in one or more capacities. the sponsor is the manager to whom the PMO reports. In this respect. and responsibilities. Since there is no perfect solution that’s right for every company. or the end of a major project. The project management office (PMO) can provide many services. perhaps up to one year. so that it can be evaluated at the conclusion of the end of the year. www. and they are typically produced as the result of a project. roles. Defining a strategy also helps get the PMO aligned in the same direction as strategies in the rest of the company. I’ll describe how you can help a client deploy project management within an organization. The objective should be written at a lower level. External stakeholders could include suppliers. conducting project audits and organization assessments. They should be the ones the PMO focuses on. If the PMO is new. and is used as an overall framework for the more detailed tactical decisions that are made on a month-to-month and day-to-day basis. but they’re absolutely critical for a culture change initiative. Inc. but it includes the immediate activities required to get you to the point that the PMO work plan can be put into place. consistent methodology. A strategy is a high-level set of directions that articulate how the organization will achieve its mission. Sponsor: All organizations don’t have a sponsor. but there’s no question that most companies will want the PMO to be responsible for building project management skills and competencies within the organization. don’t follow a formal. Transitional activities: Transitional activities are the specific activities and projects required to implement the physical PMO. including the PMO vision. It’s worth noting that many companies will choose to deploy and support project management methodology on their own. 3) Deploying project management in a client's organization Project management methodology is a framework that allows project managers to successfully manage projects of varying sizes. There are other aspects of the organization that can be defined as well. Stakeholders: The stakeholders are the specific people or groups who have an interest or a partial stake in the products and services your PMO provides. The PMO achieves its objectives through the creation of products and the delivery of skills. Sponsors are important for all initiatives.Establishing a PMO Strategy: There may be many ways to achieve your mission. For instance. in fact. but a PMO typically does. to see whether it was achieved. and timebound (SMART). attainable/achievable. at a ©2003 TechRepublic. The sponsor is the person responsible for the PMO funding and. goals. community groups. in many cases. these activities describe the work required to build and staff the new organization.

you will have introduced many new skills and new processes. In some companies. processes that are barriers to good project management must be changed or eliminated. enablers. Like waves rolling toward the beach. When you have a good picture of the state of the www. The PMO must evaluate aspects of the organization that drive behaviors. All rights reserved. describing the future state of project management in your client’s organization is not the major deliverable at this point. The ultimate deliverable from the initial assessment is a gap analysis that shows what you need to focus on to move the organization to where you want it to be. project success rates. one wave builds on a prior wave. but the staff will not have been as traumatized as if everything came crashing down on them at once. client attitudes. The first deliverable is a current state assessment that looks at the organization's culture. although training certainly plays a part. and how the future state should look. After a while. While you’re looking at the current environment. In many cases. Processes that drive good project management behaviors must be reinforced. but our CIO felt more comfortable having one of the big five consulting companies provide guidance. The environment and the vision Many change initiatives begin when we try to define what the future will look like. The deployment waves touch on all the aspects of the organization that need to be dealt with to effectively change the culture. You’ll use this information to create your deployment strategy and approach. A sample list follows: • • • Conduct general awareness sessions to explain what is coming and why. and then overcome. expected. using a consultant partner would do more harm than good. ©2003 TechRepublic. and focus groups. we probably had the expertise to build the PMO and deploy common project management methodology. Culture change The key to a project like this is to recognize that getting people to become better project managers requires them to do things differently: managing projects more actively. this effort is an organizational change management initiative. standards. Other companies are antagonistic toward outside parties. and working environment. barriers. you can create a gap analysis that shows how far the organization is from where it needs to be.techrepublic. in these companies. staff. and clients. It’s all about trying to change the culture. it’s easier for employees to buy into the new processes if a consultant is saying they need to do it. However. Once you reach an agreement on what the future looks like and how to get there. skill levels. doctors. compensation systems. consistently.Establishing a PMO company where I previously worked. Resistance to change must be accounted for. certain aspects of the new project management culture should be deployed in waves. you’ll be at a point where you can move forward with the deployment project. it’s important to deploy products and services at different times. It also requires different behaviors of the people who work on projects and the clients of the projects. Inc. Introduce standard project management processes and templates. using interviews. the PMO then pauses before rolling out the next wave. project roles. or other outsiders. Because we’re trying to change the way people do their jobs. and rigorously. Provide basic project management training focused on up-front definition and planning skills. You’ll get most of the information you need from a cross section of managers. Deploy in waves Since you’re probably introducing a number of changes in how people do their work. This is similar to the dilemma many parents face with their children: Children often will listen to teachers. also ask these people what the future will look like. surveys. Driving culture change requires much more than simply teaching new skills. . but they won’t listen to their parents.

Establishing a PMO • Roll out project management coaching services to help project managers use the training and templates effectively. and then having a successful rollout. Project management methodology should be viewed in this light. standards. or to implement processes in new areas. The PMO must continue to support and update the methodology. Support the new training concepts with more sophisticated processes and templates. your PMO may decide to redesign a template based on feedback from members of your organization. • Align the rewards and recognition systems by tying a portion of the staff’s performance review and bonus criteria to the successful implementation and use of the project management methodology. guidelines. Inc. All projects create deliverables/products. templates. At the end of many projects. As new technologies and methods emerge. After a basic project management rollout. • Reinforce the management governance process to ensure that senior and middle management are implementing the new initiative within their organizations. the methodology should evolve to reflect those For example.techrepublic. The support for these deliverables and the methodology could be very simple. • Introduce ongoing and random project audits and periodic organization assessments. so the process will have a better chance of success throughout the organization. is only part of the long-term focus of the PMO. All rights reserved. Deploying project management processes and building project management capability in an organization requires much more than simply training the staff and walking away. and policies that you use to manage projects. . as an ongoing product: The methodology is deployed into the organization through one or more projects. and risk management. 4) Defining and supporting project management methodology Organizations that have a project management office (PMO) usually make the PMO responsible for project management methodology—the processes. best practices. templates. the deliverable needs to be supported and maintained—sometimes indefinitely. Once the work is understood. and standards. metrics management. you should divide it into smaller pieces. your client may ask that you help the PMO to implement a metrics program within the organization. • Build a PMO support organization to handle the project management methodology on a long-term basis. The initial development and the subsequent support of the project management processes are known as methodology management. and it must add value to the projects that use it. procedures. templates. and make sure it is relevant in the organization. The methodology must be adaptable to meet the changing needs of the business. and the processes. and training that make up the methodology are some of the deliverables that are produced. Let’s examine three major areas of methodology management: • • • Development Support Enhancement ©2003 TechRepublic. best practices. • Teach advanced project management classes focused on more sophisticated processes such as quality management. The point is that coming up with the holistic approach to implementation. • Implement a document repository to hold the common processes. implemented in successive waves throughout the organization. www. There is a process that must be followed to move the organization toward its vision.

since most of the basic project management processes have been known for some time. especially if it were built at a detailed level. In fact. However. some of which are strictly for internal use. you may have two status report templates for two stakeholder audiences that could be consolidated into one. One caution for PMOs is that you don’t want to over-engineer the project management process. Methodology enhancement The last category of methodology management is the enhancement of the methodology. most companies that wanted a project management methodology developed one from scratch. New methodologies have been developed and introduced into the marketplace. the primary role of the PMO is to offer project management training to the staff. it doesn’t make sense to just start ©2003 TechRepublic. www. • Buy and customize: The third alternative for your client is to purchase a methodology and then customize it based on the client's needs. • Creating new training classes and extending the entire project management curriculum. and some of which are for sale to client companies.techrepublic. For example. If you can sell a methodology to your client. This includes areas such as: • Expanding and extending the current processes. With the Internet. . but it can also occur over the phone or through e-mails. All rights reserved. Helping people find documents and The client only spends the time required to develop or integrate their organization's standards. you might be ready to start training and rollout within 30 days. Maintaining the document repository if hardware. This is true with project management methodology as well.Establishing a PMO Methodology development In the past. Since project management is so broad. Now. templates. This wasn’t necessarily difficult. then extend and expand the processes to raise the quality bar. other options are available. you’ll start meeting resistance from project managers who think the methodology is getting in the way of delivering projects faster and cheaper. PMOs also have a role in coaching or working with individual project managers or project teams to transfer knowledge and teach new skills. For example. Consultants tend to have methodologies. Enhancements don't necessarily imply more processes and templates. you may initially deploy a basic quality management process. • Build: Companies still have the option to build a custom methodology from scratch. it could be very time-consuming. It’s possible that you could be reducing as well. When you provide templates and training to the first people in your client’s organization. in many organizations. • Enhancing processes and templates to make them more valuable and easier to use. you must be prepared to support the people and the products. and processes. there are three ways to obtain a project management process. Inc. or linkage problems occur. just as with a software package. This is usually done in person. training must be considered holistically along with any other services that the PMO is offering. software. Providing ongoing training classes for new and current employees. Methodology support There is an adage about the deliverables produced by projects: The day you begin to deploy your product is the day you need to be prepared to support it. 5) Build project management skills through training and coaching Training is one of the premiere services offered by project management offices (PMOs). Like many of the services offered. If you do too much extending and have too many methodology requirements. Examples of support include: • • • • Answering questions about the methodology and how best to apply it on individual projects. • Buy: Alternatives can be purchased and brought in-house.

you will target to project managers. if your PMO also performs coaching on the development life cycle. how the classes will be developed. The PMO must first determine the subjects that make the most sense to teach to each audience. and external partners. this is a request with which you would not be able to help.Establishing a PMO teaching classes. and the formal instruction of material. All rights reserved. you need to determine how you will do it. Create your training strategy and plan. and capabilities. the project managers will be the primary focus. then perhaps you would be able to help. What is the scope of your training effort? One basic assumption is that if you offer project management training. This is basically the execution of your training plan. Your client would buy. Coaching is less structured. Again. be clear about what these services include. The training plan describes the details behind the strategy. For example. Likewise. you may get a request to help create a test plan. who often have a wide array of project management experiences. the coaching services should be on those same topics. Instead. If the scope of your PMO includes project management only. However. and how they will be delivered. For example. if your PMO is initially deploying definition and planning skills to the organization. You can look at distance learning options such as Web conferencing to reach your remote staff economically. It is difficult for every coach to have expert knowledge in all aspects of project management. and team members to find out strengths and areas for improvement. clients. and usually involves talking through situations and describing or demonstrating how project management techniques can assist. Once you have approval on these documents. you would need to decline the request. Develop and teach the training curriculum. the order of the classes. www. For example. as well as the timeframe and dependencies of the subjects. team members. You need to decide what. ©2003 TechRepublic. Now that you have determined what you need. if anything. For example. . especially when the deployment project is new. you are ready to execute the plan. Inc. • Determine the scope of training. • • • Coaching is more personal and targeted Coaching is different from training. This option is especially valuable if the class must be delivered to many people and the cost of sending everyone to outside public courses is prohibitive. customized classes can be developed and taught by the PMO. the coaching services should be aligned to the areas being deployed at that time. your PMO might receive a request to help a project team use a scheduling tool. It’s another thing for the new processes to actually be adopted and utilized by the project teams. if this were not a part of the coaching service you are offering. You can also look at computer-based training. If your client’s PMO will provide coaching Gather feedback from managers. if you are coaching on project management. There are many options to consider for training. If you want to change an organization’s culture and make sure that the new processes are sticking. Training implies a formal teacher-pupil relationship. functional managers. clients. build. there are other stakeholders as well. 6) The PMO should perform audits and assessments to validate progress It’s one thing for a project management consultant to provide training and coaching and have appropriate processes and templates defined. Consultants. You must also decide on content scope. based on costs. You must also be clear on whether you will provide coaching in non-project management processes. The following steps will help during this process. you must make sure that the project teams are using them correctly. or outsource various portions of its training needs. There are dozens of classes that can be offered in many different formats and delivery modes. The training strategy describes how you will implement training at a high level. However. will you just teach methodology skills. can take the lead in this part of a client’s PMO effort.techrepublic. determining the specific classes to offer. priorities. or will you teach classes in soft skills as well? Determine the training needs.

All rights reserved. ©2003 TechRepublic. In some cases. having an outside party perform the audits gives the process an extra air of legitimacy that will cause senior management to pay attention. project auditing is a stand-alone service that service providers can also handle. . (Unfortunately. the types of questions would include: • • • • • • • • • Did the key stakeholders participate in the planning of the project? Have the sponsor(s) and major stakeholders formally approved the project definition? Is the work plan being used to manage the work performed by the team? Does the work plan accurately reflect the remaining work effort? Can the project manager clearly explain where the project is vs. it is also not practical to audit all projects. If your organization is set up with project managers reporting directly into the PMO. In fact.techrepublic. the results of the project audit should be documented and sent back to the project manager. Just as it isn’t possible to provide coaching for all projects. there are consultancies that have special expertise in auditing. as well as to the project manager's manager. through a combination of project auditing and organization assessments. where it should be at this time? Will all the deliverables specified in the project definition be completed? Is the project on track in terms of cost. They can also be the biggest obstacles to overcome if they’re not totally on board. Auditing can also be an opportunity for coaching by helping the project managers understand how the methodology is applicable to their project. in most organizations. this is more typical of the general role that middle managers play. Inc. For example. and quality? Are old risks being managed and new risks being identified? Are issues being addressed and resolved in a timely manner? Although the internal PMO will handle this service in most companies. I’ll cover a couple of important ways that the PMO. www. the senior managers and the sponsor ultimately need to ask questions in an effort to bring the middle manager into compliance. or multiple meetings. If there are follow-up action items. Consultants who help their clients establish a PMO may later find themselves helping the same clients determine whether the PMO has “taken. the project managers continue to report into their functional organizations. Project-level audits During the project audit. can validate whether all this work is effective. Actually. The results should also be summarized and sent to the project sponsor and other management stakeholders. and document the detailed and summary findings.” In this column. the adoption of project management processes is within the control of the PMO. duration. In any culture change initiative. if you audit a project in a certain department and it comes out pretty well. If a team is not using the processes that have been championed by the PMO. it is likely that the other projects in that same area will come out well too. a member of the PMO asks a series of questions to ensure compliance with the required processes and a PMO Project audits are one way for an organization’s Project Management Office (PMO) to validate whether the project teams are utilizing the appropriate project management processes.) To help reinforce the responsibilities of the managers. middle management plays a key role in overall success or failure. the audits can also take a lot of calendar time. Don't audit all projects The auditing process can be time consuming. Much of the push to implement standard project management processes is going to come from senior and middle managers. It may take 20 or more hours per project to identify the right initiatives. since the functional manager is probably helping with the push. For example. schedule the meeting time. you don't need to. However. Middle managers can be a huge asset if they are behind the culture change.

These comparisons will point out the progress (or lack of progress) that has been made. Inc. such as green (okay). If the reader wants more information. On the surface. and then sit back and let the magic happen. if you audit a project and they are not following the standard procedures. The assessments can consist of feedback from project audits. Raising visibility of the problem projects should bring organizational pressure to bear to make the proper changes. you know that the follow-up can be very time-consuming. the PMO should periodically look at the entire organization and assess how well the project management processes are being integrated into the work routine. and compare the results against the original Current State Assessment. the first deliverable that defines the pre-PMO organization. this verification includes ongoing project audits to validate that project teams are utilizing the new methodology as expected. train everyone. the PMO can gain a sense of whether project management processes are being successfully integrated into the organization. interviews with key managers and stakeholders. you’ll probably find that some areas are implementing the processes more effectively than others. consolidated reporting on the state of all the projects being executed within the organization. if more projects are completing successfully or if the project audits are showing that people are using the new processes. Some organizations like to keep each project to a one-line description. anecdotal feedback.Establishing a PMO On the other hand. he or she can follow up with the project manager. This concept can be extended so that the PMO tracks a complete. you just need to ask the project managers to send you their status in a certain format and on a certain schedule. you’ll get the sense that things are heading in the right direction. This information is especially interesting to the sponsor and other management stakeholders who need to understand how the implementation is going and whether it is successful. All rights reserved. portfolio-wide view of all active. the assessment must cover all major departments or divisions. ©2003 TechRepublic. . if you’ve ever asked a number of people to send you a common set of information. After all. If you’re implementing to a large organization. this rarely happens in a culture change initiative. It would be nice if you could develop a common methodology. this might seem like a trivial exercise. or if project audits are pointing out substantial noncompliance with the new processes. The PMO must look at this project management implementation in a holistic manner. although the follow-up assessments are not nearly as detailed or rigorous. The PMO must also work with the management stakeholders to define what is in the consolidated status report. pending. if survey results show that the organization is resisting change. it is likely a sign that the manager from that area isn’t being supportive of the methodology. the PMO should conduct periodic organizational assessments. Organizational assessments In addition to project-level audits. On a wider basis. and any available metrics. For example. This is a similar process to what was done at the beginning of the initiative in the Current State Assessment. By performing a number of assessments over time. However. and other projects in that area will probably have problems. and historical projects. On a project level. you’ll know you’re probably not moving the organization in the right direction. with some type of overall status indicator. Assessments also offer the opportunity to take corrective actions if the new processes aren’t being successfully integrated. These assessments are compared to the prior assessments to gain a sense of the progress being made. On the other hand. or red (trouble). www. 7) Leverage the PMO to consolidate project status and metrics One service that is typically associated with a Project Management Office (PMO) is the delivery of common. For that reason. yellow (caution).techrepublic. including following up in certain cases to validate that things are progressing according to plan.

it might take on more priority in their minds. This follow-up is designed to make sure that project managers know what you need to receive differently. Clearly communicate when the status reports are due. This is a key aspect of consolidated reporting. www. you may find that it is not complete. I talked to a project administrator on a Y2K project in 1999 who told me that tracking down the “mandatory” semi-monthly status reporting information took her at least eight hours each time. You may be challenged to get the information in any case. and it may also be timely. Problems gathering the status Finding out the status of an organization’s projects may seem simple enough. with the hope that you won't then have to continue to follow up with them. these problems must be overcome and they can be. The rationale is that the time will be made up in the next reporting period. consolidate. but don't give people the excuse that they didn’t know when it was due. don't ask for budget information if you don't need it for consolidated reporting. Overcoming the status reporting problems Of course. . If there are questions or concerns. without any further follow-up with the project manager. Your PMO will probably encounter the following challenges. • • • • ©2003 TechRepublic. If they understand who is requesting the information. Timeliness All the project managers won’t send you the required status information within the timeframe you require. Use the governance process if necessary. Be clear on the information you need and how it will be used. suggesting that whoever reported the information simply copied what was submitted previously. You may notice. like all activities that rely on people. you’re going to have to go back to the sponsor for the status report may contain the answers that the reader is looking for. and report the information. Isn’t it usually close to the bottom of your priority list? Accuracy In many cases. Completeness Often. This is where you need backing on the process governance. even though not all scheduled activities are completed. the information will be inaccurate. People don’t like to take the time to provide information if they don't feel it will be used. for example. The PMO just needs to collect. If you find that the PMO is spending too much time running around for the information every month. However. • Explain who is requesting the information and what it will be used for. The PMO can address these types of chronic problems through activities such as the following. this can be easier said than done. Senior managers need to be held accountable if project managers in their organization cannot get the status reports in correctly and on time. For example. All rights reserved. You may also find that the project manager may make the project appear to be on schedule. the information provided may be very brief and not provide a real sense of the status of the project. that the work a project team is planning for next month is the same as the work planned for this month. Inc. Follow up on all items that need further explanation and clarity. I’ll look at a very common service that many PMOs provide: collecting common project metrics and consolidating project status.techrepublic.Establishing a PMO Other organizations like to see a full status report on each project. For example. Think about your own personal experience on status reporting. However. the information on the report is accurate.

Some consulting firms have a strong expertise in this area that could be leveraged to make sure you start off right. Again. Third. These metrics can include things like. you should be able to claim similar value. . there is value to having the PMO consolidate project-related metrics. and you’re a similar company implementing in a similar way. if more projects are completed within expectations over time. Examples include the savings associated with using common project management procedures. There seems to be intuitive value in implementing a standard project management methodology. but if you try to quantify the value. and would. • Savings associated with risk management. in turn. The idea is that if someone else was able to measure value. The PMO is in a unique organizational role to be able to gain visibility over all of the projects going on in the organization. If the PMO doesn’t attempt to track and quantify some of these benefits. ©2003 TechRepublic. Inc. Metrics could be another one of these areas. The second approach is to actually try to calculate the value associated with using the methodology on a detailed basis. and look for companies and case studies similar to your organization. there are some areas of service where the PMO does not already have a sufficient level of expertise. the organization will have no idea what value has been provided. For example. Yet it’s also one of the most difficult to successfully answer. the PMO is the logical organizational entity to define and collect a common set of metrics. Many companies don’t know much about defining and capturing a good set of metrics. For example. All rights reserved. you’ll quickly become stuck. and a common set of templates that the project manager didn’t need to build from scratch. This could include the savings associated with scope change requests that weren’t approved. As I’ve discussed in prior columns. From a distance. • Ask clients for their estimate of the time savings they received through proactive project communication. will make it difficult for the PMO to show the value that it is providing to the organization. the metrics associated with project management value are also indirectly indicative of the value of the PMO. You can take a couple of approaches to these organizational metrics. you should start to see some trends that you can apply to the rest of the projects in your organization. compared to other typical projects with which they were previously involved. this approach asks project managers to estimate the savings associated with using similar processes on multiple projects and getting their estimate of the cost and time savings associated with reusing the common processes on an ongoing basis. As you continue to interview a subset of the project managers. the closer you get. in turn. It’s one of the more fundamental questions for your sponsor and senior management to ask. The first is to rely on industry research. This. It’s a little like holding a cloud.Establishing a PMO Organizational metrics One of the most difficult items the PMO will be asked to work on is determining the value of the project management. it seems like there should be something there that’s solid that you can get your hands on. point out the value provided by the PMO. However. the PMO can work with project managers on different types of projects to try to determine the value provided. the more vague and transparent everything becomes. rather than having to resolve them after they have become a problem. In general. look for the reuse value associated with using the common project management process. www. Therefore. These activities can be trivial if all the projects collect metrics and report status as requested. and it’s the logical place to collect common project status information for consolidated reporting. This includes estimating the savings associated with resolving potential problems before they occur. it would indicate the value associated with project management. • Savings associated with maintaining good scope change Consolidated metrics Just as with status reports.

procedures. but it provides feedback on the content. team. however. consultants are often the ones who have the most experience working within multiple organizations on a variety of projects and project structures. make sure that only approved information is posted there. this is rarely the case. . www. In some organizations. which makes these valuable services some of the most time-consuming and least liked services the PMO performs. templates.techrepublic. and that the reviews are being completed clearly and consistently. One problem. In other companies. it may start to see patterns emerge in the lessons learned. Establish a document repository One of the value propositions to deploying common project management processes is the ability to reuse processes. the resources are allocated per business unit. in fact. the project manager. At some point.Establishing a PMO However. 8) Rounding out the PMO with other product and service offerings Consultants are often brought on site to help their clients realize the full benefits of established project management processes. Creating a common resource pool involves taking a skills inventory of all shared resources and keeping track of when individuals will become available after their current project. If project managers want to see whether there’s preexisting material that will help them. the ability to reuse documentation doesn’t come about magically. However. Coordinate a common resource pool All companies need a process to staff projects. ©2003 TechRepublic. and major stakeholders should meet to discuss what was planned and what actually happened. Or the PMO can. you need to properly set up a classification structure. that the information stays current and relevant. Inc. turn your attention to lessons learned. The PMO will then have that information available as new projects are ready to start. To facilitate process and document reuse. The PMO is not approving the document. A best practice statement implies that the benefit can be gained for all projects. This service essentially involves project managers sending in project deliverables to receive a quick review and feedback. and readability of the specified document. This could be as easy as setting up a directory structure that everyone in the organization can access. or it could be for all potential project team members. Since the PMO is a focal point for all project management-related activity. client. all of the project people are assigned to one central staff. they can’t be expected to contact every other project manager. the PMO needs to establish and manage a document repository. like a tool specifically designed for document management. Depending on how you implement this resource. As the PMO collects more and more key findings. All rights reserved. format. with this approach is that these lessons typically only apply to that one project. and that the facility is actively marketed and utilized by the organization. The resource pool could be for project managers only. or it might be more elaborate and multifunctional. start certain projects based on the availability of skill sets. At some point in the meeting. Offer a document review service Document reviews can be offered on a stand-alone basis to help ensure that project managers are utilizing the standard templates as not just the few that reported it. Here’s a rundown of some of the additional services you and the project management office can help establish for clients. it’s the right place to manage these common resource pools. After all. and prior examples. The lessons should be collected and consolidated in the document repository. lessons learned from projects can be raised to the level of a best practice. Uncover best practices At the end of every project.

metrics. metrics that are captured from other companies using the same set of processes and definitions. Benchmarking requires that you gather a set of predefined metrics that describe the result of welldefined processes. you generally need to use the services of an outside firm that specializes in benchmarking. and benchmarks They can also take the time to get other companies involved. you might realize that collecting data on internal projects is valuable.techrepublic. Inc.Establishing a PMO Begin benchmarking As your client company becomes more sophisticated in using metrics. All rights reserved. This company may already have the core set of processes. It requires a lot of work. You can evaluate this information to determine whether other companies’ changes can be applied to your organization to achieve similar results. Then. but that it can only take you so far. can be used to create benchmarking statistics that allow you to compare your organization to others. . and help interpret the results. ©2003 TechRepublic. Benchmarking studies (onetime) and benchmarking programs (longer term) are a way to compare your organization against others. Benchmarking is a project that few companies want to start on their own. You don't really know how efficient and effective your project delivery is unless you can compare how you deliver projects against other companies. and the processes you define must be applicable to a range of outside companies. If you’re going to benchmark. conduct the study. www.

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