Help! They Asked Me to Set Up a PMO!

Over the years at PMO Flashmob I’ve heard that line many times:

Help! They Asked Me to Set Up a PMO!

I’ve heard it from so many different types of people too.

I’ve heard it from a Project Manager who has been asked to set up a PMO because ‘hey the business needs one now we’re so busy and you know about this project stuff so could you just . . ‘.

I’ve also heard it from PAs, Personal Assistants to senior executives who suddenly find it landed in their lap, ‘can you start looking into this PMO thing and see what we need to be doing. . .‘.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard it from people already working in a role which supports projects, ‘we’re getting more and more projects now and need to organise them more, what needs to happen to get a PMO off the ground?

When a business starts to have more and more projects, that’s when talk turns to the idea of setting up a Project Management Office.

There’s normally a couple of reasons behind the decision to go ahead and start thinking about setting one up.

  1. Now there are more projects it becomes more difficult for senior management to keep track of what’s happening.
  2. With more projects, now there is a need to standardise what we’re doing – if everyone is delivering in the same way, we have more chance of keeping a track on what’s happening.

If we can do something that addresses these two reasons – like putting in place a Project Management Office – hopefully we can take on more projects and be effective and efficient when we’re delivering them.

At its very basic, these are the things that most businesses want to address when setting up a Project Management Office for the first time. There are other drivers, of course but these are the main ones that initiate the ‘shall we have a Project Management Office?’.

What is a Project Management Office?

It makes sense to take a little step back here and clarify what is meant by a Project Management Office.

There are two different ways of looking at it.

The first is that a Project Management Office is set up to support ALL the projects in an organisation. Typically this type of Project Management Office is where the standards, methodologies, processes, templates and tools are created and maintained. It’s also where the tracking of all projects happens, and records are maintained. It’s here that reports will be collated that consolidate everything that is happening across all the projects in the business. Project Management Offices set up in this type of situation tend to be permanent as the projects are continually being started and closed down. We’ll call this a Central Project Management Office.

Still, within the first way of looking at it, a Project Management Office is set up to support ALL the projects in a department. That normally means that within a business there may be one prominent department that carries out a lot of projects – in today’s world that tends to be the IT department, although other departments like HR, marketing, research and development do have Project Management Offices too. The remit is the same as a Project Management Office supporting ALL the projects in a business – the standards, methodologies, processes, templates and tools are created, maintained and reside here. Project Management Offices set up in this type of situation tend to be permanent as the projects are continually being started and closed down. We’ll call this a Departmental Project Management Office.

The second way of looking at a Project Management Office is something that is set up to support just one project. We’ll call this a Project Office. Normally you would see this type when the project is pretty huge. It’s a big risky piece of work that needs several people supporting it across different disciplines. For example, there may be a risk specialist, planning specialist or finance specialist in this type of Project Management Office because the Project Manager will need that support and someone to delegate to when needed. Project Management Offices set up in this type of situation tend to be temporary as the project will eventually finish and close down. If a business also has the Central Project Management Office setup which includes support to ALL the projects in an organisation, people who have been working in the Project Office for some time rejoin the Central Project Management Office.

Help! They Asked Me to Set Up a PMO!

First things first, congratulations, you’ve been given an opportunity to help the business or department get better at the projects being delivered and enable decisions to be made by senior executives who can now more clearly see what’s going on with the projects they have accountability for.

It will be an exciting journey for you, with lots of twists and turns, with many people to talk to and engage. It’ll be a role that will require you to think, solve problems, provide solutions – some of which may work, sometimes not.

One thing you can be assured of is that many people have taken this journey before, and many more will come after you. There have been many lessons learnt which have resulted in good practice being created and shared.

One thing you’ll hear is that no two Project Management Offices are the same. Which is true – no two are exactly the same because no two businesses or departments are the same. Thankfully the approaches you can take to setting up a Project Management Office does exist and there are frameworks and guidelines that can help you. [If you’re interested in understanding about PMOs at a high level, P3O Foundation does that for you]

The approaches, frameworks and guidelines come from multiple sources – they can be found across all three of the main PMO certifications. Each is classed as good practice, adopting approaches that are tried and tested for setting up PMOs. The setting up of a PMO modules are part of a bigger training course which also includes the ongoing management of a PMO too.

What’s been missing from the PMO learning curriculum for PMO practitioners is a course that purely focuses on the set up of a PMO – and specifically one that focuses on setting up a Project Management Office.

Why the Setting Up a PMO Course from PMO Learning?

Well, it’s focused. When you’re standing in the shoes of someone just about to set up a PMO you want to know the practicalities.

Where do you start? What do you need to think about? What do you need to know? What questions do I need to ask? What do I do first?

What’s the most important things that need to happen and be put in place?

You need something that is simple, straightforward, focuses on what’s really important.

There are four areas that the Setting Up a PMO course does over two days:

  • Governance of Project Management
  • The Role of the Project Management Office
  • The Project Management Framework
  • The Project Management Office Implementation Roadmap

It’s these four elements together that enable you to start finding the answers you need to set off on the journey.

The Setting Up a PMO course from PMO Learning is pretty much one-of-a-kind. It’s devised and delivered by Eileen Roden, leading PMO trainer and expert in PMO. She’s the author of P3O (one of the leading best practice guides and certifications in PMO). You’re not going to be trained by anyone as good as that!

It’s been created because it’s needed. We listened to all those conversations over the years, and keep listening to the ones we have today. This is a course that shows you how to get started; to inform your thinking about the right way to put in place a Project Management Office; to quieten the rising panic from not knowing where to start to having a framework and plan to move forward.

It doesn’t matter what your background or experience is to date, when you’ve been asked to set up a Project Management Office, make sure you’re starting on the right path.

Help! They Asked Me to Set Up a PMO! Fantastic, now let’s start planning the best way forward.

 

I’m ready to do it, what next?

Take a look at the course overview. The two day pilot course is running in London on the 12th – 13th September for a one time reduced price. Book now!

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