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If I Were to Create a Project Office

David Barrett’s Monthly Blog

I met someone the other day who was asked to roll out a PMO at a large financial institution. I was really impressed with her story.

The interesting part was not what she created but how she created it.

  1. She spent four months touring the project management teams and interviewing PMs across the whole company. She asked them what they wanted. Important to note that she did this before step two. She made no promises but just collected information.
  2. She then went to her sponsor – the executive that gave her the task. No reporting on the results of step one yet – just the same kind of questions: what do YOU want and how should it work?
  3. She asked for a commitment – from her executive sponsor – for the financial support, the long term commitment to the project and, most importantly, for the authority to do what she was going to do.

I often tell people that there are currently 2,436 different ways to create a project office. Honestly. I counted! Truthfully, the result isn’t the important issue for me today as I write this piece – but the process is. I have seen many project offices open and close because no one was asked what they wanted. Like many of our projects, we are too often handed the budget, the timeframe and the specs, and told to build it.

What we really need here is a business analyst – or we need to talk and walk like a BA before we go anywhere near building the project office. This is what my friend did. She got in front of the customers, the users and the sponsors and didn’t move until she knew full well what everyone wanted.

There would be no guarantee that she was going to make everyone happy. But she certainly knew everyone’s expectations.

Some day I am going to write a book on all the PMOs out there.

is publisher of Project Times, Conference Director, ProjectWorld and BusinessAnalystWorld, and Program Director of The Masters Certificate in Project Management, Schulich Executive Education Centre.



David Barrett

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