PMO Best Practices: How to Build a Strategic Enterprise PMO

Is your Project Management Office (PMO) an effective and strategic entity that helps project managers across the organization? Traditionally, PMOs have been departmentally based and effective only within their own departments or silos of responsibility. A PMO can be an effective method of transmitting project management information and encouraging company-wide procedures and tools bringing costs down and improving project performance. Should you transition your already effective departmental PMO to an Enterprise-wide PMO? Look at your organization and determine if some of these changes might benefit the company as a whole:

  1. Alignment of PMO objectives to strategic corporate goals as opposed to IT or Engineering specific goals
  2. Involvement and support from executive management to encourage and/or require standardized project management processes leading to cost reductions and better communication within project teams.
  3. Data from multiple types of projects leading to easy comparison and knowledge sharing about effective tools (reports and software) and methodologies (contract and people management)
  4. Company-wide training that leads to projects completed on-time, within budget and to customer’s satisfaction
  5. Utilizing a risk management process that reduces the number of crisis situations

If any of the above are benefits that your company wants or needs to see in your projects some of the steps below can get you started on the path to an Enterprise PMO:

  1. Engage senior management to visibly support the PMO and its project management approach.
  2. Establish a practice of submitting regular (weekly or monthly) reports to senior management using an integrated report that shows which projects on are on track, which are off-track and which are experiencing serious issues or road blocks.
  3. Coach senior management on timely approval for project documents so that they are prepared for the reports they will see and coach project managers on required reports in the proper format and timely reporting.
  4. The head of the PMO should be on the same management level as the functional managers he or she will be drawing staff from and the project managers should report to functional managers, not to the PMO, ensuring that PMO staff is available for mentoring and coaching not direct management of projects.
  5. Set up a form of lessons learned that can be communicated to senior management ensuring continuous improvement in the management of projects company-wide.

An effective Enterprise PMO can provide consistent use of and reporting on project management techniques, making for smoothly run, cost efficient projects for the organization as a whole, rather than just one department.

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