I am currently involved in finishing up the creation of a PMO for one client and may work on another one soon after that. And what I find interesting in both the current and the upcoming one is the conscious effort to attain buy-in from key stakeholders. This might seem logical, but it is only recently that organizations have been placing more effort into this part of the work. In previous years, organizations often created their PMOs in almost a vacuum; and developed only by certain vital people. Afterward, once the PMO was designed and ready to implement, it was introduced to staff and other key stakeholders. In some cases, this can work, but in general, you want people to understand 1) the benefits, 2) the tasks and activities to run it, and 3) the commitment by upper management to see the PMO help their organization succeed.
There are, of course, other success factors needed for a PMO, as well as the teams it supports, to succeed, such as a plan to develop, implement and run the PMO, selecting the proper PMO officer to lead, set milestones to ensure that the PMO is reaching its goals, and provide proper training for staff to clarify which services the PMO is going to provide. For example, there are variations regarding the type of work the PMO will undertake, but in general, there are three distinctive types of PMOs, which is according to PMI:
- Supportive – this is a resource center with guidelines, standards, templates, and other process assets and a depository for lessons learned and other historical data, which staff and other interested parties can retrieve to help with current and future work.
- Controlling – this type of PMO provides the same services as the “supportive” type. Still, it also provides supervisorial oversight and monitoring regarding compliance where needed, for example, when permitting or third-party inspections require approval. This could include the testing and documenting a new drug, for example.
- Directive – this type of PMO provides the above-noted services outlined in the Supportive and Controlling types and renders direct project management services. Typically, this type of PMO is best suited for organizations still developing their managerial strengths and skills. Therefore, the project management teams require more direct involvement and assistance from the PMO.
In general, however, the best way to build and run an effective PMO is to start by developing the PMOs objectives in detail. For some organizations, their key goal is to increase efficiency or output; for others, it may be improving quality, timeliness, and ensuring that the cost baselines never exceed their limits; or it could be a combination of these and other goals. However, whatever the objective or objectives are, setting clear ones from the start with a clear path to achieving them is crucial. Furthermore, as noted above, you need to ensure buy-in for those impacted by the PMO.