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Setting up & sustaining a Project Management Office(PMO)

A year back, I met with a group of Project Managers from a particular organization. Each of them appeared to be quite competent and were proficient in the gamut of Project Management related topics. We started comparing notes about project management processes in their organization versus mine. It was during this discussion that I realized the disconnect. Each one was following their own change management, release management method. Each of them followed their own templates. I decided to reserve my opinion regarding our discussion exclusively to myself, but seriously, I was surprised that a medium sized organization did not have a centralized and consistent Project Management approach.

The Project Management Office(PMO) as we all know comprises of a central group of Project Managers responsible for managing projects following a consistent approach, standard templates and documents to ensure schedule, cost and scope adherence. Some organizations have a consolidated PMO and some do not.(If you want to set up a PMO please visit the following link or Slideshare

The State of Project Management Survey 2016, conducted by Wellington Project Management Group shared some interesting statistics . The participants in this survey were experienced, professionally qualified project management practitioners from across a wide spread of industries in UK geographic regions.

Some of the statistics that caught my attention were:

  • 25% PMs never or sometimes apply a consistent project management methodology or prepare a standard scoping document

  • Around 25% PMs never or sometimes engage in project risk management

  • Close to 30% PMs have not undergone any training through accredited/non-accredited courses

  • 45% of respondents were dissatisfied with the current maturity level of Project Management

When I saw the above numbers, the thought that came to my mind was that though there are a good number of organizations that have a PMO, yet we still need to work on improving the continuous adoption & execution of PM processes across each of these organizations.

Today, more than 70% projects are moving towards Agile methodology, hence for a faster time to market a more disciplined approach of Project Management is required. Setting up a Project Management Office therefore will have multiple benefits:

  • Consistent Project Management processes

  • Standard documents & Checklists

  • Centralized Project Management tool

  • A central resource pool and resource capacity planning method

  • Consistent approach of project intake and prioritization

  • Continuous training and mentoring Project Managers

  • Centralized repository for all current and completed projects

  • Sharing lessons learnt & best practices across the Project Management community

  • Gating reviews of all projects

  • Audit & Compliance for projects to ensure they are adhering to the standards set by the PMO conducts “Pulse of the Profession”- the annual global Project Management Survey. It has been observed in the 2017 results that more projects were meeting original goals and business intent and being completed within budget. Compared to last year, fewer projects are deemed failures. This clearly indicates that more and more organizations are embracing the project management practices and showing a positive trend in managing projects.

Around 70% organizations today have their own Project Management Office. However, quite a few of these PMO’s do not have a clear vision and a roadmap. A PMO without a vision and strategy included in its’ charter do not have a long-term sustenance. Such PMO’s will not be treated as a respectful partner in the organization. Hence about 50% of project management offices close within three years. ( Once the PMO is established, it needs to have a sustenance plan.

In order to have a long-term sustenance, the Project Management Office should not only have a well-defined strategy but also focus on defining certain metrics for itself, track the metrics and work towards continuous improvement. These metrics or KPIs(Key Process Area) to measure the effectiveness of a PMO should include:

  • % of projects delivered on time

  • % of projects adhering to cost

  • % of project adhering to scope

  • Number of post-delivery defects raised

  • Number of trainings conducted for Project Managers

  • Number of Project Managers moved from competency level n to level n+1

  • Number of lessons learnt & best practices sessions conducted

  • Number of Project Management assets created

  • Number of Project Management process improvement ideas implemented / executed

  • Number of projects that received a Customer Satisfaction Index (>=90%) [This is organization specific- some organization may have a CSI target of 90% and some 95% or more]

As is evident from the results of the survey, there is an increase in the percentage of success of strategic initiatives. Since more projects and programs are being successfully completed on time, this implies that more and more projects and programs are following the standard processes and practices. Successful project and program execution should not just be limited to cost, scope and schedule adherence. A project should also align with the strategic goals and business objectives. As we define the PMO goals for 2017, we should emphasize on this to realize the business benefits and gradually move towards having more organizations with maturity in realizing business benefits.


Setting up a Project Management Office

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