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The Project Management Office (PMO) consolidates, coordinates and standardises project-based activity within an organisation.

PMO members access schedules and resource requirements for all planned or active work, provide standard and ad-hoc project reports, and assist and drive workplace configuration, process compliance, audits and project delivery mentoring.

PMO Tasks >> Governance

  • Milestone status monitoring
  • Risks & benefits management
  • Budgets & project accounting
  • Expenses & materials reviews
  • Issues & actions tracking
  • Resource conflict resolution
  • Skills demand forecasting
  • Standards & processes
  • Analysis & improvement
  • Audits & compliance
  • Standard & custom reporting

Maturity
Most commercial enterprises and government agencies have established or are creating a PMO. While the objectives for the PMO are clear, successful and effective implementation can be difficult and is a journey that takes some years. Establishing a PMO is a significant step in increasing project management maturity and project execution capability.

The PMO has several key areas of focus, such as:

  1. Standards and processes
  2. Stakeholder and project support
  3. Quality assurance and control
  4. Competence and capacity improvement
  5. Program risk management
  6. Resource planing

Standards and processes
While the development of standards and processes is not difficult, reliably connecting effective processes to daily practice is. Also difficult is knowing which processes work well and where processes should be adjusted to get better results.

The identification of opportunities for project delivery improvement is important and ongoing. This requires that individual project performance is recorded and can be benchmarked against similar projects currently active, or historically.

Another challenge the PMO faces is the ongoing introduction of new processes and process improvements without high training overheads and workplace disruption, and without publishing yet another set of documents. The specification and adoption of standard reports falls is a related challenge.

Stakeholder and project support
Stakeholder and project support usually revolves around understanding what information is needed and then making this available. For steering committees and project customers, this typically involves consolidating status updates from many project teams to provide summary and exception reports.

For the project support role, identifying problems in projects, and facilitating resolution of issues is a key activity. Without easy access to priority issues registers, the ability to consolidate and prioritise focus across multiple projects can be time consuming.

Also important for stakeholders and project participants to understand delivery benefits - well defined, communicated and managed benefits help ensure and adjust alignment with strategic objectives.

Quality assurance and control
Quality assurance and control is the daily monitoring of project and program health and assurance that regular and effective governance activities like risk management reviews and steering committee meetings are done. Adherence to standard and practical process workflows is also a critical quality assurance activity.

Competence and capacity improvement
Competence and capacity improvement is the analysis of project performance and results – in terms of productivity, costs, and outcomes – in order to identify missing skills and training opportunities, and to generate an environment for increased project delivery throughput.

An overview of all active and planned projects, and the ability to analyse past performance at the “work unit” level can help to understand current and future skill set needs, and to identify training and recruitment or reassignment opportunities.

Program risk management
Program risk management involves the consolidation of multiple project risk profiles to identify, manage and report on a consolidated risk profile for active and planned, projects. Usually, the intent is to group risks by risk ranking, to help focus attention.

Risk management in project environments has become an important facet of program and project management best practice. Yet risk management is often not done, or if done is not done consistently. Because risk management is “insurance”, the benefits are often not obvious, especially when risk scenarios do not eventuate. For experienced project managers, risk management is instinctive, even if done informally.

For less experience project managers, risk management is difficult to do effectively, and seems time-consuming for little benefit, especially when the risk list and management activity is typically not part of the reporting regime. This complicates program level risk management.

Resource planning
The PMO should be in a position to identify and help meet future requirements for correctly skilled staff. However, without visibility of project resource requirements this activity cannot be done.

Resource planning at the PMO level requires an understanding of planned and actual resource needs across all projects. This includes understanding the existing skills base and forecasts for the future need. The high level view will highlight resource conflicts and areas of contention.

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Each of these key PMO areas of responsibility mentioned above pose unique problems. Asking project managers to produce reports mandated by a new process, but which takes the project manager away from their duty of steering the project to success will meet resistance, as will constant requests to produce an up-to-date and accurate project delivery plan.

While the intention is to help, the perception is often hindrance.

The opportunities for an improved PMO environment are:

  • Define project process workflow templates, document templates and standard reports. These should cover change management activities as well as operational workflows. The process templates should contain embedded links to supporting information such as industry web pages or work practice instructions, document layouts, and project documentation, such as the Charter or Statement of Work.
  • Be able to identify where processes are not working so that ongoing adjustments can be made. Ensure that issues, benefits, and project status information can be easily captured and managed by all project participants, and that this information can be used to directly populate reports and provide stakeholders and participants with clear and focused information.
  • Implement a mechanism to monitor adherence to mandatory and recommended process steps in an unobtrusive way. Regularly analyse work performed to ensure governance activities are being carried out as planned.

  • Use a resource skills matrix to understand the resource capacity, and map this to the project resource needs profile across the program of works. Identify training shortfalls by comparing project performance of like projects to establish a baseline. Assign mentors to help upskill inexperienced project managers, and give project managers visibility of similar projects being run by others.

  • Embed a risk profile in the structure of the project template itself, so lessons learned are directly attached to activities at risk. Make is simple for project managers to adjust risk rankings by setting and updating consequence and likelihood values. This standardised risk registers can then be consolidated across programs and portfolios.

  • To ease the complexity of efficient resource planning, introduce self-assignment and work queue techniques to keep shared resources connected to multiple changing work schedules. Have the ability to clearly understand current resource pool work assignments, and easily identify conflicts that need to be resolved.

TeamFrame can work with your organisation to build an effective and practical PMO using a vaiety or methodologies and tools.

 

The
Project Management Office

FOR YEARS,service delivery departments like IT have struggled to deliver projects on time and within budget. But with today's environment of more with less, the focus is on improvement of operational performance to enable the requisite flexibility to meet customer expectations.

As ever leaner service delivery processes are demanded, projects are increasingly monitored to identify opportunities for process improvement. This challenge has led many companies to turn to project management offices (PMOs) as a way to boost project efficiency, cut costs, and improve on service delivery in terms of quality, time and budget.

While not a new solution, the trend toward implementing PMOs to instil much-needed project management discipline in service delivery departments (IT included) is spreading fast. "More people lately have been talking to me about PMOs than they have in the last 10 years," says Don Christian, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers. PMOs can help CIOs by providing the structure needed to both standardise project management practices and to facilitate IT project portfolio management, as well as determine methodologies for repeatable and more efficient project delivery processes.

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which requires companies to disclose investments, such as large projects, that may affect a company's operating performance is also a driver, since it forces companies to keep closer watch on project expenses and progress – and to be able to produce meaningful audit trails.

So what is PMO?

As task uncertainty increases, there is a strong statistical correlation between project management office support and project delivery capability which equates to increased competitiveness and profits.

The PMO is team of people responsible for establishing, maintaining and enforcing project management processes, procedures, and standards. It provides services, support, and education for project managers.

 

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