I was recently reviewing articles that I’ve written about successes and failures of Project Management Offices (PMOs) and some of the things that make that success or failure happen. I started making a list of these items and thought it might be helpful to share that info with the readers here on PM Tips again in this very condensed format. Remember, these are just my opinions that I’ve expressed in some of my articles along the way.

For PMO to be Effective:

PMO Promotion

It is the responsibility of the PMO leadership to properly promote the PMO and help ensure its viability and visibility. Its viability is maintained by doing the following:

- Implementing proper and repeatable processes to consistently and successfully manage projects

- Implementing consistent templates for managing project and reporting status to customers and executive management

- Hiring competent, experienced Project Managers to lead projects for the organization

- Implementing proper compensation plans to retain good PM resources

- Implementing adequate training and on-boarding programs and processes to ensure that PMs are well-trained and up to speed on the PMO processes and practices

The PMO’s visibility is maintained by doing the following:

- Reporting project portfolio status on a regular basis and in a meaningful and useful format so that executive management realizes the PMO’s value

- Implementing solid PMO practices to ensure that the high-visibility customers are happy and referencable and the high-visibility projects are successful

- Inviting executive leadership to regularly attend weekly PMO meetings and sit in on project status meetings for the critical, high-visibility projects

- Managing project budgets thoroughly and reporting budget status up through executive leadership to show bottom-line PMO and Project Manager value

- The PMO Director, as the leader of the PMO, must be a strong leader with pull inside the organization to ensure that these things happen. Otherwise, the PMO runs the danger of becoming obsolete or, at the very least, insignificant…and the mission critical projects will pass right by the PMO to special teams outside the PMO’s jurisdiction. Executive leadership must see value and ensuring that happens begins with the PMO leadership.

PMOs fail usually for one of the following three reasons:

- Lack of strong, focused leadership

- Lack of repeatable process

- Lack of executive leadership support

Five Signs Your PMO is not Meeting Your Organization’s Needs:

- Executive Management is not Included in the PMO Process

- Training Plans are Non-Existent

- Common Templates and Processes do not Exist

- Poor Upward Project Reporting

- Major Projects Circumvent the Process

All successful PMOs feature four basic components:

- The right processes

- The right tools

- The right people

Executive level organization support

- You can always hire different people. You can bring in consultants to help define better processes or identify better tracking tools. But without the executive-level support, none of it will happen or at least it won’t succeed.

Successful PMOs make an impact on organizational success by performing the following tasks:

- Aligning project delivery with strategic business goals and priorities

- Requiring that every project have an effective PM

- Implementing an appropriate PM methodology

- Consistent management and oversight of the project portfolio

- Obtaining and maintaining company leadership support

- Director must be a key role in the organization

- Must have backing and support of executive management

- Director must champion the efforts of the PMs

- Don’t take credit for their actions

- Provide ongoing support

- Assist on critical/visible projects

- Help breakdown resource acquisition barriers

Director must run the PMO, not many projects

- Project focus for the director should mainly be on the highly visible projects where exec decision-making is going to be needed on a regular basis or the business is extremely critical to the organization

- Organization must value the PMO enough to ensure the director is not bogged down too much to be a successful leader