The users are the ones that bring a project management system to life, either as collaborators or external consultants. It is imperative that the PMO believes, manages and offers support to all of them.

 

Collaborators or suppliers, everyone is a source of talent.

 

Responsibilities  

A good PMO provides a framework that helps project managers allocate resources correctly because:

  • Projects frequently borrow resources from other business units.
  • Assigning responsibilities haphazardly normally leads to management problems down the line.

A PPM software tool offers various options to help you define the roles in each project from configuring access permissions to the specific function of every project member. You can also assign a ‘task manager’ to each task. This task is now converted into a sub-project and the assigned task manager can follow up on it.

 

Organization

Integrating the company org chart into a PMO tool is a useful way to classify and identify projects/people/activities etc. within the functional hierarchy. Later on, you can also use it to analyze outcomes.

 

Capacity: Planning and Follow-up

Managing capacity is a task requiring the utmost efficiency. It is crucial for the PMO to find the balance between:

  • Efficient management that avoids both over-allocation of resources and non-productive time.
  • The competing demands of business units and cross-unit projects vying for a limited pool of resources.

Managing capacity should be linked to demand management. Frequently, over-allocation of resources is a sign that you cannot keep up with demand. The PMO should have the means to identify this situation and the power to fix it.

The following example offers an excellent module that allows the PMO to plan globally, while analyzing individual capacity and availability.

Whatever its responsibilities are, at the very least the PMO should offer a long-term view of the demand on resources and raise a red flag when imbalances are detected.

 

Communication

If people are the beating heart of project management then communication between them makes project management possible.

 

The PMO’s role is to set up formal communication channels, and to promote and facilitate informal communication between collaborators.

 

Formal communication is related to following up on tasks; it involves specific channels to help team members learn the status of projects and tasks.

The PMO must define key moments when relevant information will be delivered to stakeholders, with the PPM system as the backbone of this process.

  • Formal communication ensures that the required information is delivered to the relevant people in a timely fashion.
  • Informal communication enhances efficiency, enabling team members to discuss and deliver information with all the background at their fingertips.

 

Documentation

Whether it is a task, risk or purchase, every element of every project can generate its own support documentation.

The PMO has several roles when it comes to documentation. The main priority is to reinforce clear management, standardize procedures and ensure that information is properly used.

  • Defining which documents are indispensable, when they should be created and to what entity they should be assigned.
  • Defining documentation formats, in coordination with other business units.
  • Offering an access system to templates and supporting documents, as well as the procedures to use them.

Depending on the responsibilities, the PMO may use some features or other benefits of its PPM tool. For example, the role of project templates can associate documentation models in the different sections of the project.

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When you have limited visibility, limited resources and capacity planning, or when you are missing a consistent methodology, you usually start building a PMO. However, it is necessary to ask yourself the relevant questions that will assure its success and meeting the objectives. In fact, only 40% of projects met schedule, budget and quality goals (IBM Change Management Survey of 1500 execs). In this article, we are going to see the key characteristics of those 40% and the important questions to ask to make sure you’re going in the right direction.

 

 

Download our new eBook: how to set up a sustainable PMO with ITM Platform

How do you define a good PMO?

Regardless of the PMO you choose, there are four universal parameters that are markers of quality and excellence:

1. Provides clarity
Because of its objective and unbiased audits, the PMO is a source of transparency and intelligent analysis. It doesn't just throw data at you.

2.Facilitates decision-making
Gives senior management oversight of the portfolio allowing them to make coherent decisions. Imagine your company is a car, the PMO provides the headlights that allow you to decide whether you need to turn left or right or even to stop. And how quickly to do so.

3.Enhances accountability
The PMO defines roles and responsibilities, motivating and empowering people; ultimately this will also allow them to be held accountable.

4.Encourages shared ownership of goals
The biggest challenge for a PMO is to be accepted within the organization. Sharing the vision and expected benefits is a good way to get stakeholders on board.

4 questions to help you plan the future of our PMO

These four questions might help to plan the future of our PMO:

1. Which projects should we pursue?
Or, which are the projects that meet our organization’s goals in the most efficient way?

2. Which projects should we start?
Out of all the project proposals in front of us, which should we prioritize? What’s the best way to plan ahead and optimize resource allocation?

3. Which projects should we continue?
Looking at the projects already in place, which of them are accomplishing what's expected of them? Which of the non-performers should continue?

4. Which projects should we kill?
Following on from the previous question, which projects aren’t worth continuing because the resources would be better employed elsewhere?

To answer these questions, the PMO should align its PPM (project portfolio management) processes with your company goals. Managing the portfolio of projects means asking every day: how are the projects, programs and portfolios facilitating the achievement of my company’s goals? If you can offer real-time information about on-going projects that help with decision-making the PMO will quickly win supporters.

Define the value that you expect a PMO to add

1. Governance
2. Organization
3. Planning
4. Cost Management
5. Asset Management
6. Risk Management
7. Information
8. Quality Management
9. Change Managment
10. Resource Management
11. Communication Management
12. Procurement
13. Document Management

Depending on the type of PMO on the table you will need to stress some aspects more than others. A strategic PMO will focus more on Governance, Organization and Planning, whereas a process-focused (tactical/operational) PMO should concentrate on Quality Management, Change Management and Document Management.

You cannot design a PMO without working out which model suits both the business and its clients.

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Since 2008, the correlated PMO implementation failure rate is over 50% (Gartner Project Manager, 2014). It is therefore crucial to find out what type is adequate for my company. In fact, there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. An effective PMO is one that both meets the demands of today and adapts to those that may arise tomorrow. To define the mission and function of our PMO we should consider the standard models on offer and assess them based on the unique needs of our business. That way we can determine which PMO best suits our reality.

 

Since no two businesses are exactly the same, the design process is bound to vary from organization to organization

Download our new eBook: how to set up a sustainable PMO with ITM Platform

 

2 different types of PMOs

In the eBook Roadmap to define your own Project Management Office we described the widely accepted types of PMO: ‘weather station’, ‘control tower’ and ‘resource pool’. In this blog post, instead of using those terms, we will draw a distinction between strategic and tactical PMOs.

  • A strategic PMO measures – and ultimately determines – how a project drives forward corporate strategy.
  • An operational or a tactical PMO is more focused on the success of individual projects.

An operational or a tactical PMO will ensure projects deliver their expected value. Strategic PMOs go beyond this to play an active role in planning strategy and will monitor and evaluate projects against the company’s strategic plan.

 

3 variables to help you determine what type to select

 

1. The organizational maturity

A mature organization has clear and established processes, executed by staff trained in those procedures. The holy grail in business excellence is when your people know what they are doing and are constantly striving to improve. If your company is one of the lucky ones with a high degree of maturity, then implementing a strategic PMO should work like a charm. Organizations with a lower maturity level (and don’t worry there are plenty of those!) would be better off concentrating on the basics and introducing an operational or a tactical PMO.

2. The nature of the business

In practice, all organizations manage projects, whether they know it or not. What does your company do day-to-day? In other words, what is the nature of your business? Spend some time considering if the efficient management of projects is key to the success or failure of your company. The greater the impact of projects on the business, the more need there is to introduce a strategic PMO. For example, an organization that is running cross-functional business transformation projects is crying out for a strategic PMO in contrast to organizations with discrete unrelated projects.

3. The management model

What is your company’s management model? If management is project-based instead of/or in combination with other models – eg management by objectives – it makes sense to implement a strategic PMO, since this PMO model highlights the relevance of projects to the organization. If the managing board is closely involved in the definition and delivery of projects, then this is fertile ground for the strategic implementation of the PMO. On the other hand, if the board’s involvement with the project portfolio is limited, this means projects are less relevant to the business – in this case, choosing an operational or a tactical PMO is the best option. If you want the PMO to have managerial – rather than operational – functions, then you should opt for the strategic PMO model.

 

Does the PMO have the power to “kill” a project?

In a strategic PMO

If the answer is ‘yes’ or the PMO can make this recommendation to the board then it is strategic in nature. That means the PMO

  1. understands the business,
  2. is aware of the resources in use and
  3. understands the value added by each project.

To sum up, the PMO has the information needed to make informed choices.

In an operational PMO

If the answer is ‘no’, then the PMO should be operational (providing administrative support to projects, support to the reporting mechanisms in place, and guiding project leaders) or tactical (managing the methodologies, resources and tools). There is no merit in choosing one type of PMO over another. One is not necessarily more complex than another; they just fulfill different needs. Not every company requires a strategic PMO. We cannot stress this enough. If what your company needs is a tactical PMO then stick to that! Don’t overcomplicate life. In contrast, if a strategic PMO is required then you may want to establish a tactical one as the first step.

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When we think about Project Management Office, a project management software is pretty much a necessity. However, there are many other solutions that can make the life of a project manager easier in several facets from productivity to communication. In our last article on apps for PMOs we introduced the first 7 software applications, today we continue the list by presenting you with another 6 tools that will make your work easier and faster. Thank us later ?

 

1. Airtable

Combine Excel, Pinterest, Trello and a database management system and you have Airtable. No jokes. Airtable is an extremely powerful solution that enables you to visualize the same data in various ways: table, Kanban, blocks (Pinterest style), calendar and forms. It’s so versatile that it can be used for almost any activity that requires a database.

logo Airtable

Pros

Airtable is powerful and flexible. It allows you to manage in a single location the data you probably would have separated into different areas. For example, you can use it for demand management in conjunction with ITM Platform. You can create an internal form for project proposals from employees, a table view for project managers to manage the proposals, and a blocks view accessible to the whole organization to inform of the selected projects. Airtable is also customizable with “blocks”, a premium feature that allows users to add new functionalities to tables.

Cons

While great for managing, Airtable is quite poor on the communication side. While there’s the possibility to comment on each line of the table, that’s the extent of its communication capabilities given that there’s no chat feature .

 

2.Visio

If you have ever needed to design a flowchart or a diagram you are probably going to love this one. Microsoft Visio is a diagramming and vector graphics application that is used to design charts swiftly and easily.

logo visio

Pros

Apart from being easy to use, Visio is part of the Microsoft Office family of solutions, which means that it is perfectly integrated with other common solutions like Word or Excel. It also allows users to design 3D map diagrams and to pull information from external sources that can update automatically.

Cons

The main issue of Visio is its compatibility as it only works on Windows. Furthermore, it doesn’t allow for real-time collaboration, without mentioning the hefty price tag (considering that it is unlikely a software you’ll use every day).

 

3. PMO Value Ring

The PMO Value Ring is the perfect software to use in conjunction with a project management software. The software is designed by PMOs for PMOs and is aimed at providing a consistent framework to manage the PMO across different stages of its life cycle.

logo PMO value ring

An example of a complete cycle in PMO Value Ring:

Pros

The tool forces the user to be consistent in the definition of the PMO and all its elements, such as Functions, Roles, Stakeholders etc. All the data can be accessed in a consolidated dashboard view that scores several different aspects like ROI or maturity.

Cons

The downside of the PMO Value Ring is that it is not integrated with any other solution, which means that all the data should be inputted manually. Furthermore, the software enhances and facilitates the management of the PMO but it is separated from the actual project management activity of the office.

 

4. ClicData

ClicData is a very powerful data visualization and BI software. It allows users to create and share dashboards that are automatically updated from the data source.

logo click-data

Pros

Clicdata is integrated with almost anything, at least with all the main apps used for business. This is great as it allows to create dashboards that can then be shared with, for example, a director or CxO, that needs to have access to live data. Another strength of ClicData is that it permits cross-evaluation of data or automatic database merge.

Cons

The interface is drag and drop but this does not mean that it is easy to use: the logic behind the interface is not always the most intuitive and the user needs to have a clear understanding of the structure of the data imported, which is not always bvious when importing data directly from a third-party source. Also, more complex dashboards require some time to set up so ensure to allocate enough time when implementing ClicData.

 

5. Sharepoint

I’m sure many of you are already familiar with SharePoint. For those who don’t know it’s a web-based collaborative platform that is primarily sold as a document management and storage system. But the product is highly flexible and usage varies substantially between organizations. Sharepoint is commonplace in larger organizations where the document management is complex and encompasses several departments.

logo SharePoint

Pros

The main advantage of SharePoint is in its document management capabilities: given its configuration capability you can create several Site Collections, limit their access, from one single, clean interface.

Cons

The main cons of SharePoint are tied to its main strength: as a consequence of being highly configurable Sharepoint is quite complex to manage in its full capability, meaning that you’ll often need to dedicate human resources or hire a consultant.

 

6. Risk assessment matrix

Good planning is essential, so that project managers and the respond to the emergence of risks. ITM Platform’s Risk Assessment Matrix evaluates risks depending on their impact and probability, allowing to visualize the level of risk exposure. Thanks to that information, you can prioritize risk management and reduce exposure!

logo Risk Matrix

Pros

This matrix allows you to register, quantify and share risks and you can share them collaboratively as well.

Cons

The tool can only be accessed online and only covers the risk management part of a Project manager work routine. However, if you need a more integrated application you can try ITM Platform, where the risk management functionality is integrated with a whole set of their features…   What do you think of these 6 tools? Are there any that you’d like to see covered that are not in this list? Let us know

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skyscrappersCorporate PMO = EPMO

Corporate PMOs are also generally known as Enterprise PMOs or EPMOs. The term has been strengthened over time because it is understood that there are features common to all corporations, regardless of the nature of their products and services, which directly affect the challenges and attributions that the project office should assume.

An EPMO reports directly to one of the highest executives in the organization. Very often, there are other PMOs of lower rank, for example for the coordination of programs or a business unit; but none has the global reach of EPMO.

It has often been said that EPMOs are the most important instrument to ensure that the corporate strategy is truly executed in all areas of the organization. The EPMO would be, then, a catalyst, an engine oriented to promote the constant transformation in an environment whose natural inertia would lead, otherwise, to immobility.

Deploy your corporate PMO with ITM Platform. Request a personalized demonstration.

Responsibilities: start by deciding just initiatives

Every action has associated an opportunity cost. Even when it is clear what is being done, it is clear that many other possible actions are being discarded.

When, in addition, you work in a huge organization, the lack of alignment of the departments to the corporate strategy results in a very voluminous waste of energy.

For that reason, the EPMO approach is twofold:

  • make sure that the right initiatives are started (doing the right things)
  • make sure that they are managed properly (doing things right)

It is, therefore, a constant monitoring of the strategic alignment for all the work planned and underway.

Other responsibilities include, of course, traditional areas of the PMOs, such as training and counseling (of the other PMOs); value management, which is easy to lose sight of in highly complex environments; resource planning; Demand management or coordination among PMOs. 

You can discover more in the White Paper: Project-Based Management (PBM)

Benefits of an EPMO

The benefits of an EPMO are similar to that of a smaller PMO, but with strategic orientation. The big difference is that the EPMO has the necessary governance structures to navigate and master the bureaucratic complexity and processes that can often become the biggest enemy of change in a corporate organization (from 5,000 employees).

In any case, it is worth reviewing those benefits:

  • Increase in the number of projects delivered on time and in time
  • Better strategic alignment between projects and business objectives
  • Greater support for departmental projects, and with this, greater chances of success for the project, which can gather the required support at critical moments
  • Less overlap of work between department
  • Greater interdepartmental collaboration
  • Greater visibility of corporate initiatives
  • Higher ROI for the projects implemented, especially in non-financial terms
  • More efficient delivery of projects –and faster to put new products and services on the market
  • A better structured approach to the treatment of risks, including risk mitigation

Success factors of an EPMO

  • Organic location, immediately below the General Management
  • Change management according to good practices, so that the new EPMO is not perceived as a rival of the existing PMOs and projects managers
  • Complementation of the managerial function: support in the decision-making, without robbing autonomy or generating political problems
  • Autonomy with respect to functional areas, so that it does not depend on IT, Financial, Human Resources, etc.
  • All subordinated PMOs must report, either directly or indirectly, to the EPMO. Otherwise, pockets of information are created that do not flow
  • The competence profile should combine project management with the business vision: those who are part of the EPMO will advise managers in making critical decisions and train project managers to continue advancing as professionals
  • No EPMO can work reasonably well if a high degree of standardization is not achieved.

References:

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