101. PMO tips: 5 actions for a PMO to quickly add value

May 3, 2013

PMO Mobilisation, PMO Tips

pmo time savingUnfortunately, there is still an unfair perception that PMO’s add little value, often being labeled as adding layers of bureaucracy.  While completely untrue, this is something that anyone tasked with setting up a PMO needs to be aware of and actively manage.

An important aspect to managing this is delivering value early.  Unfortunately, most stakeholders will not be prepared to wait until the completion of the PMO implementation project to see value – especially if they are concerned that the PMO may never add value.  So the smart PMO manager needs a ‘game plan’ to deliver some early wins onto the scoreboard.

Below are 5 actions a PMO can take to quickly start demonstrating value.

1. List of Projects

In many organisations with no central PMO, it is quite likely that there is no single list of all of the projects – no project inventory.  Therefore, it is difficult for senior management to understand exactly what projects are active, who is running them, budget, etc.  This can result in regular fire drills from management to try to uncover what is going on.

The PMO can take the lead in building and maintaining a central register of all projects (active, complete and pipeline).  Make sure that the list captures key aspects of each project:

  • Project ID
  • Project Name
  • Project Description
  • Grouping (if applicable i.e. Business Area / Function / Country, etc)
  • Project Sponsor
  • Project Manager
  • Project Budget
  • Project Benefit
  • Start Date
  • End Date
  • Status (active, not started, complete, cancelled, etc)

Ideally try to fit all of the projects on a single page if possible and add totals to all of the budget / benefit columns.  You may also want to order by Grouping and then Status.

While a simple document, this is important information that will be valued by senior management.

2. Standard Reporting

If you have completed action 1, senior management will be happy to know the complete list of projects.  However, this will quickly lead to them wanting to know how each one is progressing.

By implementing a standard status report (ideally based on an existing format) on a regular basis, you will quickly be able to provide senior management with the status of all of the projects in a common, consistent manner.  The individual submissions should be used to generate an overall dashboard, using a common RAG rating system so as to allow the rapid identification of projects that have challenges.

Again strive to fit the dashboard onto a single page containing only the information required by senior management.  Where possible, you may want to combine the List of Projects with the Dashboard – big time saver.

3. Define RAG Levels

If you let the project teams set the RAG status with no guidance, it is high likely, in fact certain, that all will have their own view of what constitutes Red, Amber, Green.  This causes a problem to senior management as some projects may report Amber when they should be Red and others Red when they should be Amber.

The PMO can quickly address this by defining standards for the RAG settings and then communicating them to all project teams.  The settings must be clear, precise and with little room for interpretation.  This will help ensure that the RAGs are then set across all projects on a like for like basis.

4. Contact List

A lot of time can be wasted as it is not clear on who should be contacted in respect of each project or even the PMO.  Building a list of project managers, sponsors, etc clearly identifying the projects will provide a simple but effective way for the correct person to be identified when somebody has a question.  The list should also include other key contacts (including PMO).

5. Steering Committee / Governance Schedule

It is high likely that the active projects will have steering committees.  There may also be an overall governance meeting for the projects.  There is often confusion on when these meetings take place, submission date of inputs, paper publication dates, etc.

The PMO can build and maintain a list of all meetings so that it is easy to see when meetings take place and, importantly for the project teams, when papers need to be ready.

In summary

It is important for a PMO to deliver value early.  Implementing the above, especially the List of Projects and Reporting will add value quickly and promote confidence that you are in control and making progress.  This will result in a higher probability that you will continue to receive support as you implement the other aspects of the PMO.

As I have mentioned before, you can really fast track these activities by purchasing predefined solutions such as the PMO Template Framework.  A smart way to deliver value early.

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About Simon

Founder of practical PMO with a passion to share insights on designing and building practical, pragmatic PMO's. Posted by Simon Wilkinson, PMP

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