So here you are, leading a successful project management office (PMO) and all is well with the world. Did you plan a phase two? Was there a next step that the business expected or is now requesting?
If the answer to any of these is “yes,” then now is the time to move onwards and upwards (according to your plans); perhaps extending to an enterprise level PMO and connecting with your clients’ PMOs, for example. If not, then now might be the time to consider such an expansion (and by expansion I don’t mean “empire building”).
As a starting point, why not just re-validate the current support for your PMO and also re-validate the business need? You can do this by reviewing PMO activity history and considering both successes and improvement needs. As ever, the better the foundation that you have for building the PMO the better.
Uniting your PMO projects through great project management, efficient time tracking, accurate resource planning, and well-managed project financials are definitely key to a good PMO foundation.
As is taking your PMO “pulse.”
Where Should You Improve Your PMO?
Perhaps it is not so much a matter of moving to Phase Two of your PMO plans, but more of wanting to improve what you already have in place; modest improvements can be just as valid as major new developments.
On the other hand, maybe things aren’t going quite as well as you had hoped? Consider right now the mechanism you have for client and other stakeholder feedback. Is it working? Are you getting honest commentary? Is the volume sufficient to be of true value?
Here are some questions that you might ask of yourself and your PMO:
- Has anything significantly changed in the business that requires an adjustment by the PMO?
- Has anything changed significantly within your client base that would suggest you might realign your PMO services?
- What is the view, within the business, of the PMO’s value?
- Are there any key internal or external opponents to the PMO operation?
- Are the methods you have established well adopted and adhered to, and have recommended improvements been acted upon?
- Has the level of project maturity risen?
- Are project managers reporting the same issues as before?
- Has there been a change in the PMO sponsorship roles, personnel, or approach?
- Has project health improved or stagnated?
- Is the PMO approach the right one?
- Is the PMO model the right one?
You may need to survey the PMO stakeholders to understand in more detail what it is that needs extra effort and focus. Alternatively, it may be that you just need to get together with your PMO team and revisit the PMO purpose. And perhaps you might consider investing in software to help you make that leap to the next level in order to connect your people, your projects, and your profits on a modern platform.
Ask Your PMO These Crucial Questions
For further help, you might like to take the PMO “Acid” Test (as described in my book “Leading Successful PMOs”). These tests will address who, what, when, where, why and how regarding your PMO to understand where effective improvements can be made.
Who: Call up your CEO and then count the number of seconds before he recognizes your name.
If you are really connected to the business and your clients, at the right level and with the right profile, then your CEO will know you and your PMO’s work. You don’t have to start with the CEO, you can try this out moving up the organisation level by level. Who at two levels above you knows you and the PMO’s work?
What: What happens when you call up a project manager? Do you get straight through or do they adopt an avoidance strategy?
A call from any member of the PMO should be a welcome event and not something to hide from or fear. Consider if there are certain individuals, teams, or departments that are resistant to what the PMO is trying to achieve. Ask yourself why this is and plan a charm offensive to demonstrate that the PMO is their friend.
When: When was the last time that a project manager contacted your PMO asking for some form of help?
If this has not happened in some time, then perhaps your PMO is not as accessible and open as you may wish it to be. Run a survey or open session to gain some insight into the reasons for a lack of contact with the PMO. It may link to the “what” question above, i.e. fear of the PMO, or it may be just a lack of awareness. Go out of your way to help key people, regardless of if it isn’t really in your PMO remit. By winning influential supporters, the word will spread about the PMO being a “go-to” group.
Where: Do people frequently ask where they should go for project information or project help?
The PMO should be the automatic first call for anything project related when project managers or others need some guidance. Make sure yours is easy to access and quick to respond. Market what the PMO does, create a menu of service items that the PMO can deliver “off the shelf,” and advertise this tirelessly.
Why: Do people ask why they should use the PMO and do they know what your PMO does?
You should have marketed the value of your PMO throughout the organization and people should easily access a “service menu” or information about what the PMO can do to help them. Success stories really help here with proven benefits of PMO involvement. Invest your time in developing some and get people outside the PMO to write them or at least validate them.
How: How can you improve the PMO’s work and profile, its performance, its acceptance and its role in your company?
How can you do this? You need to think and plan and act. You need to lead.
Keep Your Projects Healthy
Don’t let your projects fall apart. Read Mavenlink’s ebook “How to Rescue an At-Risk Project” and stay out of project danger.