Phase 3 – Project Management Office (PMO) Setup: Establish the PMO

Submission of the Project Initiation Document, Budget and the Business case sets the ball rolling for the establishment of the PMO. Staffing the PMO is completely dependent on the headcount of the organization and the number of projects running. 

The role of the PMO is slightly varied from the general roles of people working in the company, including the project managers. In most cases, the PMO is involved in selection of Project Managers as well. Take a deco at how the PMO is established

1.Create master project list based on priority: Creating a master project list and sub-lists allows you a systematic break up of tasks for prioritization. Sub project tasks can be aligned for several projects. Alternatively, projects at the same phase can also utilize common resources by matching authority with responsibility and accountability. Projects need to align with the company’s larger program and this list helps. There are several software now available that can accomplish this task. 

2.PM Methodology: Talk of optimizing resources and projects and you can’t do it without having a set methodology. From among a smorgasbord of options, the ideal methodology must help workflow and enhance performance and results. Several factors play a role in choosing the right one- time and budget, team size, flexibility of tasks, client participation and risk appetite. Based on the above, just like software development, you can choose between

a. Waterfall method: When the steps are clearly sequenced and linear.
b. Agile: When you’re working through collaboration and don’t want a linear approach
c. Scrum: When your work is broken down into short modules called ‘sprints’. It also enables continuous improvement
d. There are several others to suit your requirements like Lean, Kanban, Scrumban, Six Sigma, etc.

3. PMO Repository / Directory: Get all the project managers together, they’re a big source of information. And information is God. The main objective of having a PMO in the first place is to streamline information flow and communication. As tasks get completed, the output gets documented. All these documents required and produced during the course of all projects lead to the PMO repository. General and specific policies, standards, guidelines, templates, references, best practices all go into different folders in the repository. 

4. PMO Policies and Procedures: In alignment with those of the organization, these policies and procedures facilitate the functioning of the PMO, demarcate the roles and responsibilities, allows for sharing of resources, methodologies, tools and techniques. These policies come in handy when the PMO has to swing into action especially when a project starts to slip or is not on schedule and not delivering expected results and outcomes. 

5. Creation of PMO Interface Procedures: Not all projects are independent, most are, in fact interdependent. Project Managers need to coordinate and control project activities using interface procedures that help all the members. It helps to monitor, record and track the progress of all ongoing projects. 

6. Design Future PMO Process: Agreed every project is unique but a process ensures continuity of working, learning and applying what is learned. The PMO must put in place processes for the future so that all projects accomplish their technical goals as well as the processes around the implemented technology. 

7. Create Tools and Templates: They help maintain the quality, consistency and transparency of projects at all times. Portfolio tools and project collaboration tools come in different forms, as software. Project initiation, planning, execution and closure, all require a common template to maintain proper continuity and uniformity. 

8. Requirements of Governance Reporting: As businesses change, PMO needs to evolve with it. The PMO governance framework helps define its authority and lists out the support it needs to maximize project management capabilities. Not only does it define authority, roles and responsibilities, it also sets in place business standards, policies and directives so that transparency sets in. 

9. Project Resource Allocation Procedures: As you find various projects vying for common and or limited resources that can be allocated, a stringent procedure that governs this allocation works to control and keep track. Use of RACI charts  (Assigning the person who is Responsible, Accountable, Consulted or Informed during the course of the project) is just one of the ways through which this can be done. This process usually comprises of five key steps:

                  a. Breaking down all projects into individual tasks
                  b. Assigning the required resources to each task
                  c. Assigning resource attributes to each
                  d. Leveling of resources to maximize utilization and benefits
                  e. Shift allocation if needed
                  f. Assess the utilization and track benefits

10. Budget Control Procedures: Budget overruns are the major reasons for most projects that fail. S-Curve analysis is one of the most used techniques to compare the progress marked against time, gives a fair idea of where it is headed and at what speed. Creating a realistic budget against time at hand and monitoring the two keeps the S curve in shape. Avoiding Scope creep (the evolution of the scope of the budget which was not accounted for at the beginning) and tracking all resources including man hours and bills enables thorough control over budgets. 

11. Project Change Control Procedures: With many projects running simultaneously, things tend to require change at some point. With project change control procedures in place, it becomes easy to put forth change requests and get them approved. The five steps to project change management procedure include: 

a. Initiating change request
b. Evaluation of the requested change
c. Approval or denial of the requested change
d. Implementing the change once approved
e. Closing the request

12. Process For Project Prioritization: With more than one project vying for the resources , the governance team is in a quandary as to which one to prioritize over the other. A process to accomplish this enables a transparent prioritization mechanism. Generally, it is the value of the project that determines its priority and hence the allocation of resources and time for its completion. Also, return on investment, rate of success, sponsors are some other factors that determine it.  

13. Create PMO Handbook: as is with all kinds of handbooks, the PMO handbook makes it easy for anyone joining afresh to the PMO to understand and tread the path of Project Management with ease. It gives step by step details about project initiation, planning, execution, control and closure so that no step is missed. Eliminating ambiguity and setting standard templates enables new managers to prevent waste of time and efforts in understanding Project Management of the company. 

14. Train PMs and PMO staff: As Jim Collins famously said in his book “Good to Great”, people are not an organization’s biggest asset, the right people are. Training Project Managers and the staff that man the PMO is a big investment that aims to eliminate one key question at all steps in the Project Management – “Now what”. Since projects are dynamic in nature, no time or resource can be wasted in pondering. Training helps teams to be equipped with the right skills to carry forward the projects smoothly without hindrance. It involves skills like problem solving, communication, planning and execution, critical thinking and decision making as well as handling technology (project management and other software). 

15. Gain Approval To Proceed To Next Level: During the course of setting up the PMO, getting approvals at all the stages helps scale up to the next level. 

As you can see, the amount of effort required to be executed during the establishing phase are many. It is important these are executed in a timely manner and with right folks onboard. 

To learn more about the next phases in setting up a successful project management office, check out the articles below: 

Phase 4 – Project Management Office (PMO) Setup: Implementing the PMO

Phase 5 – Project Management Office (PMO) Setup: Improving the PMO


Recommended reading: 

Practical Guide for Setting up a successful Project Management Office (PMO)

Phase 1 – Project Management Office (PMO) Setup: Assessment and Strategy

Phase 2 – Project Management Office (PMO) Setup: Initiation

Phase 3 – Project Management Office (PMO) Setup: Establish the PMO


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