Introducing a Project Management Office Into Your Organization

How do you show value early on in the execution process? One idea is to “start narrow and deep,” i.e. focus on projects that are deemed to be most critical and processes that will provide value to all levels of IT management. As is the case with implementing any new process, there are a number of pitfalls which can have an adverse affect on a PMO rollout. Below are some key areas to think about before embarking on the roll out, as well as advice for mitigating risks.

Cultural Buy-In: This is especially crucial at the project and application manager levels. At the beginning of the PMO process, there is usually a small decrease in productivity followed by an increase in project completion time after the implementation is complete.

During the initial slow down it is important to have champions that understand this dynamic and who are willing to accept a temporary drop in productivity in exchange for faster implementations in the future. Buy-in at the executive level is also paramount. Make it a point to understand key stakeholder wants and needs, and address them early in the rollout. This could be as simple as building a portlet which displays a simple project inventory.

The value of transparency must be well understood. Project managers need to understand the importance of raising issues early so that course corrections can be made before timelines, quality and/or cost are put at risk. Project managers need to understand the benefits of a centralized PPM repository or “single system of record”, which will alert project managers to potential problems while corrective action can still be taken.

A rewards system also helps to ensure organization buy-in. Ideally, performance and best practice consistency should be tied to incentive-based compensation and individual’s career goals. Posting project status reports in a highly visible area also goes a long way towards changing behavior—peer pressure can be a powerful tool.

Training: It is a challenge rolling out new processes across dozens of business units and thousands of users. Establish training and mentoring programs to ensure best practices are consistently followed after training is completed.

Communication: Communicating success is as important to sustaining PMO momentum as the process that goes into creating one. Develop a comprehensive communications plan that ensures successes are being highlighted across all the stakeholder audiences.

PMO Benefits

Many companies have already recognized the benefits of establishing a process improvement effort. The relationship between an organization’s process maturity level and its productivity has been studied extensively. While developing a software process improvement program can be costly, studies have shown that the resulting benefits of improved time-to-market, productivity and software quality far outweigh the initial investment costs.

Establishing a PMO is the first step to improving your project, program and portfolio management best practices so you can accelerate time-to-market and increase the quality of your IT initiatives in a cost-effective manner.

Coming up in part three, my colleague Chris-Craig Jones offers suggestions for setting up effective, iterative benchmarking and project rollout with, “Evolving the Maturity Level of Your PMO.”

George Hunte is a Solutions Manager in the IT Governance practice of CA. Hunte develops service solutions that focus on customer satisfaction, developing intellectual capital and expanding the capabilities of the CA delivery team in the PPM space. Hunte has over 14 years of experience in software engineering.