A Rainbow of Different Purposes for Your PMO

PM Commentary by Stacy Goff, ProjectExperts CEO.
In the previous post about PMOs, Program or Project Management Offices, we discussed the different flavors of PMOs, and 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, functions and services for your Program or Project Management Office (PMO) is from our custom services series. 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 …

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

For each of these functions, a series of specific services can be identified, prioritized, and implemented. For example, for item 1, above, Executive Information and Portfolio Management Support, the sample 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

Many Useful Services
Clearly, a well-positioned PMO could perform many useful services; in our work in improving PM Performance through more-effective PMOs, we help a departmental or Enterprise PMO and its Sponsor to evaluate the ease of implementation and the value to the organization against 50-70 PMO services in the above 10 functions. Then, for the top-rated services, we establish an action plan for implementation, and a measurement plan to assess (and correct, where needed) the benefits.

Not to present the workshop here, but below we identify some of the most-frequently-implemented PMO Functions and their 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

PASS, Project Audit Support Service, is a pro-active project results review service. We believe in preventing problems, rather than just detecting them after the fact, and then recovering from them.

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.