If you’ve ever set up a Project Management Office (PMO) in a company, you are probably familiar with the queasy feeling of knowing that the PMO actors of the newly established function are being viewed in a sceptical manner right from the outset.
The management team wants to see that the investment in the PMO was worth it and expects tangible results in the shortest possible time. On the other hand, project managers are afraid that the PMO will place an unpleasant supervisory body in front of them, causing additional administrative work.
For this reason, PMOs are often faced with a dilemma right from the start. Let’s be honest, though, some PMOs fall into this predicament as a result of their own actions. After all, there are still far too many examples of high failure rates in business practice, which just serve to highlight the bad reputation of PMOs. They all too often mutate into admin monsters that eat up a lot of time and resources in their organization and primarily revolve around themselves.
But how do you, as the person responsible for a PMO, free yourself from the debilitating clutch of pressure and scepticism? The best way is to keep on pressing forward! Embrace the challenge. You should demonstrate to stakeholders from the outset what a properly implemented Activist PMO can do for everyone involved.
However, it would be naïve to think that building a sophisticated PMO would generate the necessary levels of acceptance in the company. It would be better to anticipate possible acceptance problems at an early stage and to strategically position the PMO in such a way that it generates tangible added value for the company and its stakeholders. This insights article shows you what you should bear in mind.
There is no one-size-fits-all structure for setting up a PMO. On the contrary, each Project Management Office must be adapted to the company in which it is set up.
This means that the location of the PMO within the organization, its equipment, tasks and objectives must be tailored to the individual requirements. On the other hand, this also means that areas of responsibility must be clearly defined from day one.
PMOs can only develop innovative dynamics in a company if they are involved in strategic decisions. In order for this to be possible, the PMO has to be consistently backed by the company’s management. In cases of conflict, the PMO must be able to fall back on this authority in order to be able to call existing processes into question and set impulses for new ones.
At the same time, the PMO should actively emphasize the practical benefits it provides for the management team. It can support the company management in many valuable decisions as an executive body and provide strategic know-how about project management in the company.
In day-to-day business, every Project Management Office is a service provider within the company. This is why stakeholder satisfaction becomes one of the most important acceptance criteria. To achieve this, PMO managers should focus on achieving rapid success right from the start and work closely with the project managers. The acceptance of your PMO by project managers increases the more the advantages of cooperation and strategic added value become tangible in practice.
In addition, every PMO should pursue active stakeholder management. It begins with identifying who the really decisive stakeholders are for project management. Then establish a close relationship of trust with them e.g. through regular discussions and structured surveys. This way, you gain valuable insights into the decisive processes and problems associated with project management. By developing solutions together, you also secure the support of your stakeholders over the long term.
Quantitative results speak for themselves and meet the need that companies have to control the resources they use. In order to determine the quantitative influence of a PMO, you should work with metrics and KPIs. You can create these together with your stakeholders according to the specific requirements of the company. Regular measurements give you a data-based picture of the changes that have affected the PMO.
However, you always need to keep an eye on strategic topics and allow easy-to-use project monitoring tools to demonstrate how your projects are progressing and contributing to the overall success. The quantitative measurement of the PMO’s work can be used in two ways: On the one hand, you can gain analytical insights into project management and, if necessary, adjust them with measures. On the other hand, the results should also be used to better present the influence that the PMO is having on the company to outsiders.
If the PMO takes responsibility for both strategic and operational tasks, it may make sense to separate the two areas. The advantage: PMO employees working in the operational area often find it easier to gain access to daily business, while PMO employees with a strategic focus work closer to the management team. Regular interaction between operational and strategic employees ensures the necessary flow of information between the two areas within the PMO.
Good PMO structuring also includes clearly defining goals and responsibilities, especially in operational project management. This way, it is possible to clearly document who performs which role, how the tasks of PMO employees and project managers are defined, and exactly how the PMO supports project management. An important point here is that although the PMO’s role can evolve over time, it should always be the same in all projects.
If you want to enjoy lots of success with your PMO, keep an eye on the big picture. Don’t get tangled up in little things that don’t make a big impact. Detailed project plans may look impressive at first glance. Experience shows, however, that a neatly prepared project plan does not ultimately play a crucial role in the success of a project.
In this case, practical methods such as OKR are far more important. They allow you to make faster progress in your projects and enable you to display which objectives and key results you want to achieve by a certain period to project teams and stakeholders. This creates focus, strengthens team spirit and is easier to manage.
PMOs have the potential to play an important mediating role in matters related to the corporate culture. It should be established as the central agency through which strategies are communicated, knowledge is shared and transparency is created for all project management processes in the company. Overall, the PMO should position itself as a helper and communicator that does not impose regulations on project managers, but rather supports them in their day-to-day business by carrying out administrative tasks.
Nevertheless, communication is also important for the PMO for its own sake: engage in active self-marketing and openly present your offers and successes. This applies to your daily email communication, presentation of the PMO on the intranet and to the organization of internal events and specialist communities. Successfully completed projects can be celebrated accordingly.
Do you want to know how to make project management in your company more effective? If so, we recommend you do the PMO health check!
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