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Samer el Barakeh was born in Lebanon, 1973. He completed his Bachelor in Engineering-CCE at Beirut Arab University-Lebanon in 1996 with honours. Samer was granted Masters Degree in Project Management (MPM) from the University of Sydney-Australia with honours. He also gained the Project Management Professional (PMP) Credential from The Project Management Institute (PMI). Samer is a member of the Order of Architects and Engineers in Lebanon since 1996, The Project Management Institute (PMI), Arabian Gulf Chapter (AGC-PMI) and Lebanon Chapter-PMI. During his 13 years of professional experience in Lebanon, Australia and Saudi Arabia, Samer held many positions among them: Telecommunication Site Engineer, Site Manager, Low Current Service Head, and he is currently Senior Systems Analyst at the General Project Construction Division. Samer is a Project Management Consultant and Training Provider for universal organizations like Business Management Consultants (USA) and PMCTQuest (Canada) Samer is a Registered Training Provider for Project Management Professional (PMP), and he provides training in Program Management, Portfolio Management,PMO...
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April 27, 2008

Successful Project Management Office (PMO)

Successful Project Management Office (PMO)
There was a global study conducted on 750 Project Management Offices (PMOs) which found that the most successful PMOs were centralized to service the entire organization and they provided added convenience to the project team at the same time (Stanleigh, 2006). To be successful, ten so called ‘secrets’ are recommended. These are:
1. Launch slowly and with careful project planning
2. Create scope statement and Project Plan to ensure a clear and successful, staged implementation.
3. Communicate regularly both internally and with the rest of the organization to garner on-going support from the senior management team.
4. Share and act upon lessons learned, providing regular feedback with/from stakeholders.
5. Effectively manage changes
6. Develop a “stage-gate” approval process for longer-term projects.
7. Simplify methodologies and implement them gradually.
8. Focus on training, mentoring and leading by example.
9. Implement scaleable processes and a simple reporting system to validate compliance with the project management process.
10. Establish project success measures to provide senior management with relevant information for decision-making affecting project completion.

Governance, consistency, quality and transparency are among the PMO benefits. These reflect on project outcomes and organizational revenue.

Another way to look at successful PMO as suggested by Wood (2008) is by identifying common weaknesses that PMO address in organizations, among those:

 limited capital and resources
 Lack of people dedicated to projects
 Lack of objective methods to accept/cancel/terminate projects
 Most project managers are really project administrators.
 Most project estimates are too optimistic

For a PMO to effectively close these gaps, and be successful, it should:
1. Provide project administration support to project managers.
2. Justify projects based on “worst-case scenarios” in terms to budget, effort levels and completion dates.
3. Deploy standardized techniques and tools for estimating, reporting and project conduct. 4. Streamline paperwork.
4. Make project owners accountable for success of the project.
5. Turn project managers into project execution logicians.
6. Develop a repository of project templates, checklists and expert resources.
7. Adopt a “Once Started-Never Stopped” policy on approved projects
8. Limit the number of tasks that can be active to a person at any given time.
9. Deploy a pragmatic methodology for evaluating, approving and prioritizing projects.
It is important to distinguish the roles of Project Managers from that of a PMO member. Especially when some project managers have dual responsibilities. Therefore, the same PM may have to play a PMO role in some places and PM roles in another. Key identification of each of these roles is shown below. The PMO and the project manager roles are obviously different, but both of them are necessary to ensure the success of the individual project and the success of the overall portfolio of projects.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that it is a challenge to establish and maintain PMO. There is a considerable expenditure expected here and high risks as well. Failing to realise PMO benefits may lead to a state which is worse than the initial one. In my opinion, the following factors should be thoroughly studied at the outset:
• Expected roles of PMO
• Level of formality, authority, and desired structure
• Should the PMO be temporary or permanent
• Should it be built in-house or should we call external consultants/expertise

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