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How to Set up PMO (Project Management Office)

By Junaid Tahir What is PMO: A Project Management Office (PMO) is a team within the organization which defines, controls, monitors an...

By Junaid Tahir

What is PMO:

A Project Management Office (PMO) is a team within the organization which defines, controls, monitors and governs the Tools and Techniques for the End-to-End Project Execution. This team not only establishes the processes but also effectively monitors the adherence to such methodologies by respective Project teams. PMO Team works across all the domains of the project such as Risk Management, Resource Management, Ordering Control, Dashboards Establishment, Quality Assurance, Performance Control and so on. (A more detailed information for each domain will come later in this article)

Why PMO:

If a PMO is established in a professional and successful manner, it will add HUGE value in the organization’s effectiveness; effectiveness in People, Processes, Productivity, Cost, Communication, Delivery and Quality. A lot of SMEs have recently realized the importance of setting up PMO because of the aforementioned benefits.

What Areas PMO Works In:

PMOs help Project Managers, team leads and other stake holders in the below 10 Management Areas:

1- Procurement Management
2- Risk Management
3- Resource Management
4- Integration Management
5- System Management
6- Time Management
7- Cost Management
8- Communication Management
9- Quality Management
10- Stake Holders Management


What Steps are Required to Establish PMO:

1- Organize, Organize, Organize: The most important step towards establishing a PMO office is to establish an Organized foundation structure. This means that ALL Information related to the above 10 management areas is to be Organized and documented in a systematic way. A PMO specialist can easily perform this job provided he takes a deep dive of company’s on-going projects. Staying organized is the vital skill a PMO must have as this will help produce right reports at right time for the right people to make right decisions.

2- Process Establishment: A process is a series of steps to be executed in a sequential manner in order to achieve one or more objectives. Processes need to be established in each of the 10 management areas mentioned above. Once each domain of work is identified, associated processes need to be prepared. There are some unique techniques to be followed for creating processes such as Easy to follow,

3- Establish vendor/sub-con evaluation criteria for Procurement Management.

4- Establish Risk Management Register/Formats to Identify, quantify, rectify and/or mitigate the risks.

5- Establish time-sheets and other Resource Management techniques (Resource task assignment, work load evaluation, (person based or team based).

6- Establish mature database management system (Microsoft Excel can still be used for SMEs and even for larger projects. Check this article about on how to establish effective database management system can be established.

7- Cost, Scope and Time Management are the most important factors for any project. If one of these is impacted, others will be impacted too. Strong control on this Triple-Constraint is highly recommended to be ensured by PMO. Check this article about Cost Control Recommendations.

8- Establish Communication Matrix which will ensure smooth information flow (what information, who will send, to which person/team, how often, what format etc.)

9- Establish SMART Objectives with clear WBS and even crystal clear RACI chart.

10- Set-up KPIs for each major deliverables. Each KPI should have an accountable owner. Low Level KPIs and Magnified/Transformed KPIs may be considered for different teams.

11- Establish Escalation Points for the Project milestones; at what level of violation/deviation, the issue needs to be labeled as Red Flag and immediately to be referred to Leadership for intervention and resolution.

(sample dashboard)

What are Recommendations for PMO Professionals:

1- Overlapping Activities: If multiple teams are working on multiple projects at same locations, find possible overlapping activities and plan them for execution at the same time. This will reduce down time at customer end, effectively utilize less resources and will be cost-effective too.

2- Define Pillars/Slogans and abbreviations: so that the collective leadership goals become the vision of each team member and it becomes easy for all the resources to refresh management expectations and eventually it becomes talk of the town within the organization. For example the Vision for 2015 can be: RUSH320 (Resource, Unification, Satisfaction, Harmony). Which means this year the company would focus on Resource Trainings (-R-), Unification of several databases across the company (-U-), Customer complaints reduction by 50% (-S-), Harmony between teams with dinners, outings, games etc (-H-), To be in Top 3 in IT field (-3-), to be 20% better than current competitor in terms of Sales (-20-)


3- Improvement, Improvement, Improvement: Always keep searching for pain-points in company’s processes, tools, techniques… everywhere and keep reporting the recommendations/solutions to the Leadership for review and implementation of such recommendations. Consider Six Sigma’s DMAIC Technique for continuous Improvement

4- Establish Dashboards through database automation. Effective Dashboards can be created in Microsoft excel also. You don’t need to invest additional costs to buy soft-wares or hire consultants to do this for you.

5- Always establish harmony within the teams through bridging the gap, easing out the effective communication, killing the silos and bringing teams closer to each other. Remember, an employee can be available on his/her desk for 8 hours, but he may be productive for 6 hours and during these 6 hours his/her efficiency and productivity can be enhanced through mental satisfaction by clearly informing him what is expected, by resolving the ‘political pollution’ and by supporting him to resolving his issues, clear his challenges related to communication with his/her team members.

6- Introduce “Performance Contracts” for senior managers. A performance contract is a contract between a Senior Manager and Leadership to ensure delivery of certain KPIs for specific duration. These performance contracts to be linked with annual evaluation of the employee. Let the Senior Manager and Leadership sign the Performance Contract document so as to make the manager feel the importance of project delivery.

7- Always observe if there are any Priority Projects expected by management. Let these projects be communicated to teams and perform consistent follow-up for progress and Dash Board reporting. Compliance with management’s expectation is the utmost thing expected from PMO.

8- Keep observing about Process effectiveness, People effectiveness and Tools effectiveness and endeavor for continuous enhancement of these domains. Use Zoom-in / Zoom-out Technique.

Final Words:
While PMO has a huge responsibility yet it has to be clearly understood that several activities do not fall under PMO office domain:

1- PMO does not track day to day micro tasks. It is PM and Team Lead’s responsibility.
2- PMO is in-charge of the process, not the executor.
3- PMO does not get involved at individual personnel work in normal circumstance.

Also it is extremely important to understand that without genuine authority to audit teams work, PMO may not be an effective team. Hence it would be waste of money if PMO is not empowered within the organization.

References and Abbreviations:
· SMART Goal (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound)
· WBS (Work Breakdown Structure)
· RACI Chart (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed
· Fish Bone Diagram – Technique for Root Cause Analysis
· DMAIC: 6 Sigma Technique. Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control

Additional Resources:
- How Happy Is Your Organization
- The Seven Super Powers You Must Posses
- Begin Your Leadership Journey
- 10 Analogies for a Great Leader
- Who Are Consultants - What Qualities Do They Possess?
- Effective Delegation Process in Management
- The Role of Management Consultants
- Employee Feedback System
- 10 Tips On How To Manage Emails Effectively
- Vision - A Critical personality Trait of Leaders

DMAIC, WBS, SMART, RACI, 10 Management Areas are tools/trademarks of respective esteemed organizations which are mentioned here for the sake of education. If any copy write violation is done, please let me know so I can remove from article.

About Author:
Junaid Tahir, a Telecom Engineer, a Program Manager and a Blogger, writes articles on Self Improvement, Stress Management and Leadership.

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