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

Setting up the Project Management Office (PMO) is a decision by the company towards streamlining all projects that it handles at the same time. It has its own processes and procedures through which the PMO manages to track, assist and monitor the progress of the ongoing projects. Aligning the PMO to the company’s strategy helps achieve company objectives. 

Align Organizational Objectives and Reward System

What would be the rationale to support and fund projects if they are not aligned with the company’s objectives and strategy? 

There are several reasons why strategy does not materialize in an organization. It could be because it is too vague or pompous for workers to understand. It could also be because the managers who play the role of implementing strategy do not see rewards linked to the strategy, there is no enough time given for the project to be implemented and reviewed or budgetary allocation is not aligned with strategy. 

All these factors prove to be impediments to achieving organizational objectives and lower the morale of employees. In the absence of clear directives and steering, executives often wait for things to turn around on their own instead of acting on it. 

When achieving organizational objectives is linked to rewards for all concerned with it, it makes it worth taking the plunge because everyone knows how they would benefit from it. This is turn results in objectives being achieved. 

Performance Reviews Must Incorporate Adherence To PMO Processes

Performance reviews of key personnel like the Project Managers when linked to adherence to PMO processes sets the ground for taking the PMO and its role seriously. 

Any deviation in adherence to the PMO processes means that the Project Manager has overruled the system put in place by the organization for the sake of the project’s benefit. 

Just like the PMO processes need to be embedded into the organization’s culture, similarly adherence must be linked to performance reviews of individual managers. Inversely, non adherence can be flagged off and delinked from rewards. This ensures a deterrent to override the PMO and its systems which are meant to help the projects. 

All stakeholders must be aware that non-compliance / non-adherence would result in severely hampering the progress of the project as also sabotaging the governance mechanism of the company. Linking managerial bonuses to adherence will also provide a tangible reward for all concerned to follow suit, making it a positive reinforce rather than a compulsion. 

It helps that the PMO personnel gain as many supporters and sponsors as possible at all levels for the PMO processes to be wholeheartedly adhered to. Generally the tendency is that Project Managers and other executives feel burdened with too many centers of reporting. The PMO, though crucial for the projects’ success, needs to prove its relevance at the beginning for it to gain the credibility it deserves. 

Continuous Improvement

Beginning well may have proved half the battle won but continuing on a road of success requires continuous improvement in efficiency and output. 

Improving the professional expertise of all personnel associated with the PMO ensures that the outcome always sees an upward trajectory. 

A strong training and mentoring program which involves sharing experiences, discussing new trends, gaining feedback and working proactively on it ensures that the PMO’s path is dotted with success all the way. 

And nothing speaks louder than success. So once it is established that the role of PMO plays a key role in the success of the Projects, it strengthens its credibility, paving the way for more successes to come. 

Continuous improvement in proficiency of people eliminates bottlenecks, discards redundant practices and brings in new ways to accomplish common objectives for the company. Key people from the project management team can be motivated to gain PM certifications like PRINCE2 or the PMP (Project Management Professional) certification which helps stay ahead of the curve within the organization. 

Key Learning Reviewed

Reviewing the entire lifecycle of the project reveals several lessons whose insights can be fed back to the organization’s strategic plan. This helps avert mistakes in the future and provides inputs for better handling ongoing projects. 

An organization that learns from its own functions is better equipped to avoid erring on some predictable ones thereby saving precious resources, including time. 

The PMO has in place a proper mechanism to capture feedback and lessons learned and derive inferences out of it. Only then can it make sense of the lessons learned and not otherwise. Ideally, this system must involve capturing and deciphering data at every step so that it’s never too late to make amends and admit the same. 

What works best for the company becomes part of its best practices and strengthens the organization as a whole, also boosting the employee morale in the long run. 

Tuning Towards Project Management Maturity

It is an indicator if the capability of the PMO to generate value to the stakeholders- including the customers and the organization itself. 

Has the PMO matured to function from a operational mode to a strategic mode? This is the dilemma all organizations face. 

Is the PMO in an operational mode or strategic mode? The PMO may have many approaches while it is successful in delivering on its objectives. It could be operational tactical or strategic. The same PMO may be very mature when it comes to strategy development and implementation but immature when it concerns operations and tact. It could also be the other way round. What is its core objective and its responsibility towards achieving that is the best determinant of its maturity. 

As part of its continuous learning and betterment initiative, the PMO must adopt more sophisticated processes to enable reach its full potential. If it has to be seen as a value-adding team, then it needs to add more sophisticated processes in its repertoire. Expecting everyone to be an expert is futile, but equipping people with new kind of knowledge enables them to perform better. 

Have Program Health Checks In Place

Program health checks is a tool that allows spotting problems in time to avoid projects from running into trouble. 

A process check, governance check, work flow and progress check provides data points that chart the project’s trajectory. 

Any deviations or flaws when detected in time prevent the project from derailing or running into roadblocks. 

Schedule program health checks regularly which can be built into the system and the timeline. This ensures it becomes part of the system seamlessly. 

Project planning, implementation, oversights, deployment of resources, governance reporting, communication, collaboration, adherence to systems and processes and performance of people all need a regular check to always stay on track. 

Reporting deviations and taking appropriate actions ‘in time’ helps to stay the course. 

Periodic PMO Reports For The Steering Committee

The PMO Head needs to generate periodic (quarterly or even more frequent if possible) reports that provide a balanced view of its progress to the steering committee that drives these projects. 

Setting up a reporting calendar and standards of reporting and adhering to it shows its professionalism and transparency. 

A consolidated summary of all ongoing projects, including all the details in the main part, also helps the steering committee to take timely decisions. 

Nothing is more rewarding than seeing your PMO function like a well oiled machine. It all starts right from an assessment of its need in the organization to conducting continuous improvements to make it productive and efficient. 

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

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

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


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