How to start a Project Management Office (PMO) in your organization

As you probably know, there are a lot of articles, white papers, and blogs about how to set up a PMO. You have probably been thinking of setting one up for months or even years, but you can’t find the time or are concerned about the cost to your organization, the resistance you might get from the board of directors and/or the staff. Sound familiar? That’s because most organizations, if not all, go through the same decision-making process.

What I recommend you do first is ask yourself these simple questions:

  • Do you feel like you keep reinventing the wheel each time you start a new project and or project/process?
  • Do you think you have the processes, guidelines, templates, etc. needed to start and run a project, but you just don’t know where they are located?
  • Do you feel that the learning curve for new hires does not seem to improve time-wise?

If your answer is “yes” to at least one of these three questions, then you are in need and ready to start your own PMO. Additionally, chances are that you have already asked yourself these questions and that is why you have been considering setting up a PMO.

How to start a Project Management Office (PMO) in your organization

That said, in order to address the above concerns (i.e. Plan Risk Responses,) such as resistance, cost and lack of time, start with a project initiation document (PID.) In other words, start with a Project Charter! If that seems redundant or just one more thing for you to do, consider the fact that the Charter will help you identify and address the major aspects of this “project,” which is the timeline, investment in hours or funds, the stakeholders and initial risks.

The Project Charter could include the following information (sample): 

STATEMENT OF WORK

Develop and implement a PMO for the XYZ department (or the entire company,) including a gap analysis for the processes, guidelines, and templates needed to improve efficiency by 20%, as measured within the following success criteria….

BUSINESS CASE

The company has been growing by X% per year over the last two (2) years and growth is expected to continue at this same rate for the foreseeable future. Therefore, it is necessary to implement a system to assist the project managers to quickly set up their projects, get organized, and ensure quality control in all deliverables.

ESTIMATED COST

The anticipated cost to set up and implement the PMO is estimated to be as follows:

  • Staff hours: X hours
  • Cost: 00 €

TIMELINE

The expected time for this endeavor is approximately X months, which includes the following phases:

  • Select the PMO development and implementation team
  • Research and evaluate existing PMO tools
  • Develop a gap analysis for missing PMO tools
  • ….

STAKEHOLDERS

  • The board of directors
  • Current clients
  • Future clients
  • CFO
  • The Managing Principal (Department Manager)
  • Current Project Managers

RISKS

(-) Resistance from Key Stakeholders

(-) Difficulty in implementing new systems

(-) Cost overruns for this project

(-) Schedule delays

(-) Negative effect/impact on existing projects

(+) Increased efficiency beyond the established success criteria

(+) Additional clients/work

(+) PMO becomes a prototype for the company’s other offices

(+) Gain a considerable edge over our competitors

(+) Opportunity to re-sell the PMO to other organizations


Jorge Romero-Lozano, Dipl. Ing., LEED AP, PMP is a project management consultant based in Berlin, Germany. He specializes in developing and implementing PMOs in addition to his project management consultancy work, PMP Certification workshops, and Project Management bootcamps. Visit his web-page at www.pm-workshops.com

How to start a Project Management Office (PMO) in your organization

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