Wednesday, 15 June 2011 08:32

What Constitutes a Good Project Management Office Road Map?

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Once the PMO’s identity is successfully crafted, the focus gravitates towards the definition of the project methodology, staff certification and the evaluation of automation tools. Occasionally, efforts are invested in charting the evolution of processes based on the standard PMO maturity model.  The brave amongst the PMO cadres go further and delve into the political quagmire of establishing ground rules for project ownership. While all of these activities are commendable they do not—in their sum—constitute a PMO road map.

The PMO road map is much more than a compilation of the above activities compressed into a schedule. A good road map will address several areas for development and deliver core competencies over a period of time. An effective timeline should span 2 years, or 8 quarters and must deliver tangible benefits to the organization at regular intervals. What follows is a synopsis of the basic elements that should be the cornerstone of a road map to establish a PMO.

PMO Transformation

It’s important to bear in mind that the PMO will have to pass through a number of stages, before it becomes a fully fledged department that functions in accordance with PMO’s mission and vision statements. Initially, the journey will commence from the instillation of service culture within the team, followed by the company wide acceptance that the PMO is a service base department. In other words, individual relationships with other Business Units (BUs) have been substituted with agreed OLAs, buttressed by the PMO team. Furthermore, each BU request is prioritized (according to a set of frame works agreed upon with the executives) and processed in a professional manner based on existing capacity. At the end of the journey—depending very much on the mission and vision statement—the PMO should be widely recognized as a center of excellence, or a consultancy— or perhaps both. The transformation of the PMO from a handful of individuals, to a fully operational department should be clearly represented on the PMO road map. 

Service Portfolio

Without a doubt, a successful PMO will offer a range of services which business units can rely on time after time. Business units may subscribe to services such as project support, project delivery, portfolio management, executive reporting, PMO BOT(Build Operate Transfer), business processes, change management, quality assurance, etc.  From the outset, the capability to deliver and support such services will not be in place. This means that services have to be introduced gradually and the PMO road map should clearly highlight this, as well as, all of the associated dependencies. If there is an urgent requirement to provide a particular service—especially one that is not ready—the PMO may contract vendors to provide the service in the interim period. Again, this should be included in the road map.

Project Methodology

The core competency of any PMO is a sound project methodology that serves as the mainstay for efficient program delivery and effective portfolio management. However, it takes time to develop a robust methodology with associated templates and tools. Furthermore, a certain level of maturity which varies from company to company is mandatory before program delivery can start and a given set of projects/programs can be treated as portfolio management. Therefore the PMO road map ought to clearly indicate as to when it would have the capability and the capacity to support this. The former is grounded in processes, roles and responsibilities, and governance; the latter hinges on skills and competency. As a cautionary note, it is extremely beneficial to include project targets such as by quarter 3 the PMO will support x number of projects, or have delivered y number of cross-functional business programs.

Certification

PMO certification can be divided into two parts; processes and manpower. ISO, OGC and PMI are the preferred choice for many companies when it comes to certifying PMO processes and project methodology. On the manpower front: PRINCE2, PMP, Six Sigma, AIM and other certifications are essential to demonstrate the PMO’s ability to deliver proposed services. The certification path for the PMO processes and manpower ought to be incorporated in the road map and aligned with PMO transformation, service portfolio and project methodology.

Automation

Automation here does not imply the purchase and implementation of a project tool such as MSP, or an enterprise portfolio management application. Rather, automation is the complete mechanization of the PMO and its integration with other corporate systems such as ERP, CRM, Business Intelligence (BI), etc. As one can appreciate, an automated PMO is not going to be forged overnight. In fact, it is correct to insinuate that such an endeavour can only be implemented in phases; prudently mimicking the maturity of PMO process, project methodology and people. This more than likely suggests, the time line for the road map will not be met.

Communication

One of the most neglected and overlooked aspects of the PMO is the active advertisement of its services and benefits to all employees of the organization. Again a staggered approach to marketing the PMO may initially include a CEO’s memo, followed by frequent publication of PMO newsletters, brochures, web casts etc. Again the PMO road map must factor in PMO communication.

Other elements can be included in the road map but the ones outlined in this article should suffice as a beginning. The road map should be logically arranged to show the availability of different services and the key dependencies to support them. Once a road map is in place it is relatively easy to construct a detail plan, set employee objectives and win over skeptics about the merits of the PMO.

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Abid Mustafa is a seasoned professional with 18 years' experience in the IT and Telecommunications industry, specializing in enhancing corporate performance through the establishment and operation of executive PMOs and delivering tangible benefits through the management of complex transformation programmes and projects. Currently he is working as a director of corporate programmes for a leading telecoms operator in the MENA region.
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