Sunday, August 15, 2010

Establishing a Project Management Office (PMO)

One of the initiatives I have on my plate is to establish a PMO within our facilities organization. Like many FM shops everyone on our team wears many hats. A few of us are even pretty good at project management. But ALL of us are at one point or another cast in the Project Manager (PM) role and while we are good at project implementations we need to get better.

At their heart PMO’s have relatively simple goals; establishing policy, setting and implementing project management standards, and measuring performance chief among them. Some might say “bringing order to chaos” would be a tidy summary. Possibly. I don’t think it applies in our case and I hope it doesn’t in yours. There is no arguing the fact, however, that PMO’s require adherence to set standards and that there is a definite process. While ad hoc project management may allow us to feel more “agile” and “nimble” it also contributes to a “tyranny of the urgent” culture. The positive tension in creating a PMO is to retain that agility while implementing a culture that brings standardization, transparency and accountability.

We can provide all the pronouncements we like and have the best of intentions, but the real success of a PMO depends upon other critical factors as well.

  • Is the initiative to establish the PMO communicated with the strong endorsement of senior management or is the team left to make it or break it on their own?
  • Are clear and measurable objectives established to define the expectations of the new PMO?
  • Are project managers selected on the basis of their aptitude and training, or simply because they are available or the projects are in their functional area?
  • Is appropriate time, training and software provided, or are members expected to do it out of their hip pocket?

Knowing the answers to those questions will give you a good indicator of the likely success of a PMO launch effort. Positive responses will define the lines of accountability, provide the resources needed and instill confidence.

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