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  • #2192960

    Implimenting a PMO


    by johnolson ·

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    • #3133318

      A Brief History

      by johnolson ·

      In reply to Implimenting a PMO

      Let me begin with a brief history:  In November of 2004, the place where I work reorganized my small department into its own division with sub departments.  As a part of this reorganization I was given the job of ?Projects Coordinator?.  My new position was charged with establishing a PMO within the new division.  However, before I could begin this task, I have to off load my old job to someone else.  That seemed like it would be a lot easier that it was.


      Topics to come:

      • Preparing to setup a PMO – Where did I start my PMO efforts and what would I do differently looking back
      • Where are we now
      • Taking the first step towards a formal PMO.
      • Importance of Sponsorship
    • #3135219

      Laying the foundation for a PMO

      by johnolson ·

      In reply to Implimenting a PMO

      Laying the foundation for a PMO

      First things first

      Before beginning to implement major PMO services normally provided, it was important to begin with the basics.  We began by identifying, documenting and prioritizing the projects within our division.  In essence, we were going to try and lay down a foundation of project knowledge before anything else. Being an IT shop, who?s customers were primarily the other internal divisions, it was imperative we worked closely with our customers in this process.

      How did we do it

      Identify projects

      Our strategy for identifying projects was to work together with our customers to: formally document the existence of all projects in a central repository, prioritize the projects and to get validation of this final prioritized list from the project sponsors.  We scoped this process to only include the current fiscal year and, for the most part, this was a smooth operation.  We did not have any project management tools at the time so we entered the project information into an excel spreadsheet.  These were our humble beginnings for a project management office.

      Find a methodology

      One item I tried to tackle, at the same time, was to draft a methodology for project management.  I researched countless documents and templates and put together a framework for a project management handbook.  This was a mistake.  I would not count it as a waste of time, because sooner or later it will become useful.  However, this was not the appropriate timing for this.  I found that you can put together a great methodology.  But, until your staff has the training to understand why and how it should be used, it will just sit on a shelf.  That is why I believe training is the key.  Lets face it, in order to prove your PMO successful, you are going to show results.  Training is the key to showing results for a PMO.  I will qualify this with the statement; I have not yet implemented the training program.  So, stay tuned to see how this works out.

      Find a tool

      Part of the balancing game you play when setting up a PMO is getting the right tools in place, at the right time to support your project managers, at their skill levels.  If your PMs are at a low skill level, and you are trying to implement too many tools, you risk loosing the buy-in (and/or confidence) of your PM?s.  If you train your PM?s to a higher skill level, then fail to give them the proper tools to utilize their new talents, and you risk having them go back to their old habits.  We used a very shaky process to decide on implementing MS project professional along with MS project server as our first set of purchased tools for PM.  As of two months ago, we started to use them for productions use.  My first task was two fold.  Setup a training program for our team leaders to learn how to use the tool and also, get all our current project listings out of excel and into the project server. I will have more on the MS project training program later.





      Topics to come

      • Getting Proactive on identifying projects
      • Sponsorship, don?t start without it.
      • My first two Report to the Directors
      • Loosening the shackles of my old job
      • Where are we now
      • Implementing MS Project Server in our culture
      • Taking the first step towards a formal PMO.
      • Importance of Sponsorship
      • Notes on a major reorganization and how projects can help clarify newly identified roles and responsibilities
      • Setting up training for MS Project.


    • #3092973

      Management Support of the PMO, Don?t start without it.

      by johnolson ·

      In reply to Implimenting a PMO

      Management Support of the PMO, Don?t start without it.

      If you are fortunate enough to have a sponsor that will reinforce the priority of your PMO efforts to the entire division, both verbally and visibly, it is important to repay this support with results.  IF you do not feel you have this, get it before continuing to the next step. 


      The next step is aquiring the buy-in/support of the entire division?s management team.  In  my situation, this team consists of the Division Director (my sponsor) the Division Manager (my immediate supervisor) and the Applications Development Department Supervisor and Tech Support Department Supervisor.  My chosen method for reaching this goal is through the development and acceptance of a PMO Charter.

      Researching other Charters

      My first step was researching PMO Charters.  I figured there would be one or two I could use as a temple.  I was able to find a charter template specifically for the implementation of a PMO after an exhaustive search.  I was hoping to find two or three and take the best from both of them.  However, I could only find one that was acceptable.  (Feel free to comment on this posting if you would like a copy of the PMO Charter Template). 

      Focusing of the PMO Charter

      After my research, it was clear that folks have taken many approaches to writing PMO Charters.  The approach I felt would allow me the best chance for success would be to focus the charter on ?What? PMO services would be offered, not ?How? we would implement the services.  In doing this, I decided to phase the buy-in process.  First, I would get the management team to agree on the services the PMO would offer.  Next we could prioritize those services so I could determine where to begin.  Then, finally, we could focus on how to implement each service, one at a time.  

      Writing the Charter

      I then began the laborious effort of taking this template and writing our PMO Charter.  In the best circumstances, this document should not be written by a single person.  However, I began writing this document year after the beginning of the PMO.  So, by this time, I had a very good idea of what my director was looking for.  Bravely (or foolishly, only history will tell) I drafted the PMO Charter.  The best decision I made after writing the first draft was to hold onto it and edit it again.  In the second edit, I made sure I read it with my sponsor in mind.  Always considering how I thought he would feel/react to the text.  This seems to have paid off in the next step. 

      Sponsor Input

      After Drafting the PMO Charter, the next step was to get input from the Division Director and Division Manager.  This ended up begin less painful than I imagined.  We seemed to be in overall agreement on what services the PMO should be offering.  The only requests I received for changes were to help prepare the document with any political problems it may run into in the future.

      Management Team Buy-In: My Current Step

       This is where I currently stand in the process.  I have delivered the latest version of the PMO Charter to the Management Team.  It is my intension to use this step to reinforce the Directors view of how the PMO should operate to the supervisors.  We can then work out any concerns or objections as a team now, rather than running into them later.  It is my goal to come out of this step with a plan the entire Management Team understands and supports.  Wish me luck!

      PMO Charter Approval and Services prioritization

      With buy-in from the Division Management Team it will be time to ask the Division Director to sign the document.  Once this is done I can then focus on the harder task of prioritizing the rollout of these services.  This is where I am anticipating a difference of opinion between the stakeholders.  I will keep you informed.


      Please comment on how you think this process would work differently in your organization.

      • #3092302

        Management Support of the PMO, Don?t start without it.

        by kevin.davies ·

        In reply to Management Support of the PMO, Don?t start without it.

        May I have a copy of your PMO charter, I would like to know where to start




      • #3093842

        Management Support of the PMO, Don?t start without it.

        by johnolson ·

        In reply to Management Support of the PMO, Don?t start without it.

        I am happy to provid a copy of my charter and/or the PMO charters that I used as templates.  Please feel free to email me and I will send them.

        I also have project managment methodology templates including: project charters, project plan documents etc. Just let me know what you need.  I will be happy to share.

        best of luck to all

        -John Olson

      • #3091059

        Management Support of the PMO, Don?t start without it.

        by wayne m. ·

        In reply to Management Support of the PMO, Don?t start without it.


        I would suggest that you consider modifying your approach.  From my days in product development, the sequence described above sets off warning bells in my head.

        From what I read, the sequence is something like:

        1) Start running the PMO (“began writing (the charter) year after the beginning of the PMO”).

        2) Get a general purpose charter off of the Internet, then tailor it to your sponsor.

        3) Get upper level management approval.

        4) Presumably use upper management approval to force PM acceptance of the PMO.  I am assuming the rationale for writing of a charter a year after the PMO started is rejection of the PMO by the PMs.

        If one turns this around and treats the PMO office as a product to be introduced, I think the following sequence would be more appropriate and instituted in lieu of the current approach.

        1) Identify the primary users (aka stakeholders).  In this case, it would be the current PMs.

        2) Interview the user base to determine their needs.  Where can the PMO provide assisstance and value to the PMs?  This is a non-trivial level of effort.

        3) Based on the user needs assessment, a charter that is specific to the organization can be written.  The charter should specify short-term needs as well as a long-term vision.  This document could also serve as a charter for a project to address one or more of the short-term needs.

        The approach described sounds suspiciously like a solution looking for a problem.  No matter how well intentioned, that approach usually leads to failure.  Provide solutions to your users’ problems and they will seek you out.


      • #3254665

        Management Support of the PMO, Don?t start without it.

        by johnolson ·

        In reply to Management Support of the PMO, Don?t start without it.

        Warning Heeded ?.

        Your warnings are very prudent.  But, you are incorrect in many of your assumptions.  Rest assured, we are not trying to offer a solution without having first identified specific problems and found the creation of a PMO to be our best solution.

        I do not blame you for your misinterpretation of the above information.  This posting did not address the issue you are brining up here.  My focus for this posting was the importance of sponsorship when starting a PMO.  It was not discuss the reasons for starting a PMO and the problems we were trying to solve.  I think the big assumption you made, that I should give further clarification on, was the reason it took a year to begin a PMO charter.  This was not due to pushback from PM?s or lack of buy-in (as it seems you were impling?).  In reality, the reason for the delay was my inability to unload the duties from my old job.  Once I was freed of those duties, the way was cleared for me to focus on my new duties (setting up a PMO).  During the year it took to offload my old duties, we made progress in communicating within the organization to discuss what the needs are, what we could do about them and why.

        To summarize, I agree with the basic premise of your statements, and this is the approach we are taking.  We have already identified stakeholders and requirements (I wasn?t just sitting on my hands for that year).  But the point of this posting was to say, now that we are able to begin implementing some of these solutions to problems, the best tool to begin the process is in making sure you have support from your sponsor.  Then the logical place to go, is documenting that support.

        – John Olson


        Thank you for you comments, it is always good to have folks keeping me on my toes.  These conversations help me to clarify what I am trying to communicate for myself and (hopefully) other readers as well.


      • #3252332

        Management Support of the PMO, Don?t start without it.

        by wayne m. ·

        In reply to Management Support of the PMO, Don?t start without it.

        Apology – Did Not Mean to Jump to Conclusions

        I am afraid my comments probably reflected more on my own past expereinces than what was in your post.  I had merely hoped to reiterate the importance of early and frequent communications with stakeholders.

        I apologize for falsely imply that you had not taken these steps and look forward to updates on your progress.


      • #3280331

        Management Support of the PMO, Don?t start without it.

        by tmenia ·

        In reply to Management Support of the PMO, Don?t start without it.

        I will be able to use your experience in my org to initiate a PMO.  Excellent article.  Can you send me a copy of the template please?




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