Friday, February 1, 2013

7 Responsibilities of a Project Management Office

By Alvin Soltis

PMO responsibility can vary greatly depending on who you ask. In my career I have had the opportunity to setup a few Project Offices. The first we won’t talk about, the second and third turned out very well. I am sharing some of the key routines I used below:

Manage Proposed Projects Pipeline
  • Score proposals. This is a quick way to gauge the cost, benefit, and risk of the project so you know how much effort should go into it and who to involve. You also score this against other competing proposals who take from the same budget pool.
  • Vet that project Business Case is sound. The bigger the project the more work in this area.
  • Ensure that the project aligns to the organizations vision and strategy. It could be a great idea, but does it advance the greater goals of the organization?
Manage Project Portfolio
  • Project Dashboard. This will list key metrics and is usually color coded so leadership can quickly see where to focus attention.
  • Exception Reporting. This regularly goes out to all the project managers and points out anything that is missing from the project. I recommend you score the projects so ones missing a lot go red. It works wonders in getting projects in tip top shape.
  • Portfolio reviews. This is done with an operating or governance committee who has the authority to move the projects through each phase and make major changes to the cost, scope, and time of the project.
  • Ensure projects are following the process. This is a combination of active monitoring and reviews done at the end of each phase.
Manage Closed Projects (Artifacts)
  • Used for historical reference to size projects in the pipeline.
  • Reuse of artifacts that worked well in the past for similar projects.
  • Reference for upgrades and audit purposes.
Define Process and Procedures (keep it lean)
  • For Portfolio Management, Program Management, and Project Management. Not all three are always needed for every PMO.
  • Update as needed to ensure the procedures are best serving the organization. This means removing procedures that do not provide value to the projects. It is also important to keep it simple and clear so it can be easily repeated and reported on. Strong procedures do not mean a lot of procedures.
Training (Learning if you talk to HR)
  • Provide a Community of Practice to ensure process is being followed by all the project managers in the organization. It is very common they are not all in the PMO and you have a responsibility to make sure everyone understands the process.
  • Provide learning materials, guides, eLearning, classes as appropriate.
  • A certification process. This could be confirming they took an eLearning class before they run a project.
Provide and Maintain Project Tools
  • Provide Project Portfolio Management Tools. There are a ton of tools out their where the most critical functions are the same. Remember, the tool does not create success nor will it save a PMO. It is the people that make a PMO work!
  • Provide Collaboration Tools. SharePoint is probably the most popular and great for everything that does not fit neatly in your PPM tool. A good example would be initial discovery ahead of a project proposal. You might also use it to bring together multiple projects in a program.
Run Business Projects
  • First off, the PMO should not own any projects. The ultimate responsibility should be from the business that holds the purse strings. I consider this the most critical concept for any successful PMO.
  • Manage Programs and large Projects. These are typically the cross divisional Projects with high cost or risk to the organization. Medium to Small projects can be handled within the division where they have the subject matter expertise.
There you have it. Some of the most common processes of a PMO.

What do you think? Do you agree with this list? What did we miss? What other areas do you feel the PMO should be responsible for? 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Alvin,
    I read your article with interest and concur with the fundamentals you bullet pointed, however organizational structure and top management commitment play a huge role in the governance of the PMO. There is a difference of how internal and external projects are managed, hence the way the PMO is managed. One of the key fundamental factors of responsibility for the PMO is resource management and allocation in terms of human, financial and equipment, a well-managed PMO will have the competitive advantage by completing more projects in the same time with less resources. Project management is the backbone and pivotal of the PMO and is further enhanced when combined with the implementation of PPM.

    My background is civil infrastructure and oil & gas, these two areas are complex enough with the types and size of projects undertaken, further complications occur from project selection and mega projects placed within the portfolio, there is a fine balance of portfolio capabilities and capacity, and there are only so many resources to complete the pipeline projects. One of the key tools used on all projects as you noted is the milestone review this also needs to take into consideration the portfolio and the impact to other projects that are awaiting critical resources. Additional elements of the PMO that manager’s external projects are customer relationship management and customer integration these are critical for the organization and PMO sustainability. For an organization working in a multiple project environment sharing the same resources with the same characteristics I would suggest implementing Primavera 6 software, this managers multiple projects and multiple portfolios that flags up risks of over resource allocation etc.
    I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.

    Many thanks


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