The Implementation of a PMO is also a Project

By Manuel Del Rio Diaz Industrial Engineer, MSc, PMP is an approved Senior Global Partner (SGP) and Certified Business Specialist (CBS) with the Academy of Business Strategy and his geographical location is Monterrey in Mexico.” The PMO initiative has very different reasons to be implemented, sometimes is a high management idea, compliance between Companies going through integration, opportunity process strategy and others. . I have the experience of implementing PMO´s for 15 years and a very important point is how we justify this investment and, for this as for any other Project, business case must be in place. I just said “Project” because PMO implementation must be treated as that, some of the reasons for not doing this are a lack of knowledge and/or experience. It is an initiative that has to be planned, executed, monitored, controlled and closed. There are a good percentage of PMOs that have been declined after a few years because they were not a well supported office, running it with lack of experience, not being productive, nor practical or aligned to business. First, the implementation of a PMO has to be simple and practical; time will come to make it mature and strategic. We are the ones that present the idea, implement and improve the PMO and close as well. We must think in this “Project” as any other Project in order to have a better opportunity of success and to maintain this well recognized methodology and PMO process. This project must have a business case, return of investment analysis, Sponsor, Project Manager, Project team, Project charter, scope definition, project plan and so on, all for first phase and then a plan for maturity. Initial key performance indicators (KPI’s) have to be defined to keep on sight how we are doing in the PMO and take decisions on the run; indicators must be shown on a periodical basis to high management. We must have in mind that a Project initiates and closes, in fact this Project could have several phases, this first phase look for have in place a new way to do projects, implementation of this process must be practical and documented. New projects are going to be Planned and executed with this new process, documentation, tools and culture. This is going to be a challenge, you must think in change management too. Following phases can be defined and planned, but I am sure that when time comes up these plans have to be reviewed again and improved based on results of previous phases. PMO has a maturity process as any other improvement process, Project Management Institute (www.pmi.org) defined a standard called Project Management Maturity Model (OPM3) that helps to look over the next possible phases and look for objectives. The responsibility to align Project Management strategy to business is also part of the “Project”. There are many options of methodologies to analyse and look for, so it is important to define the goals of your PMO, the context, the industry and the area of speciality where you are going to implement the PMO and its processes. We have to be open to learn, if you do not have experience on PMO implementation, you should ask to some one that does, look for information and experience on that matter otherwise you would be taking the risk to fail in a short or middle term. Go for it, learn from others and be practical according to your context and needs. Methodologies cover a whole bunch of processes and sub-processes trying to be useful to all industries, you just need to cover your own needs. PMO implementation is a serious initiative, you can have a lot of business benefits if this is a well-planned Project, it is an effort that will give you a return, most of the time within the short term. Therefore We have to look for the Sponsor of this Project, assuming that I will be the Project Manager, we have to sell the idea to a High Management, this is not only methodology or process business, this is a people business, it must be sold to stakeholders as well, the ones that are going to be involved. We must talk about benefits in a business oriented way, not in a methodology or as Project matter, this “Project” must offer and give benefits to the Company, benefits that can be measured, shown and improved. As soon as we have the Sponsorship, we are ready to plan our Project, and this is the easiest part because there are many methodologies that can help on the implementation of a PMO, we have to decide scope and methodology, plan the activities, time, cost, risks, and so on, as any other formal project. Apply this new process to the PMO Project. But then it comes the hardest part, “People”. We have to sell the new way to do projects to the stakeholders, you will find some that are not happy to change the way of doing things as they have been used to for years. So you must involve this people from the beginning, they can be part of the improvement, they have new ideas as well and they are usually willing to participate. I have been working for many years in Projects and Processes improvement, one of my great experiences has been on ACS a Xerox company (www.acs-inc.com) , they really work on projects with a high sense of importance and maturity, they make a big effort to keep continuous improvement on their PMO processes and all this took years to get this maturity level, so please do not look to have a very complete methodology and PMO since the beginning, be practical and look for short term business results. Take seriously the PMO implementation, it is a Project that has to give benefits and has to be well-implemented, look for experience from others, lessons learned, books, decide for a Standard, identify the right KPI´s, Plan the project and the most important thing, involve the right people all along.

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