How to Keep Everyone on the Same Page: Project Management Office Operating Model Development – Part III

Putting together a project office requires a strong foundation and direction. Strategy is meaningless without execution. In order for a Project Office to be successful, it needs a good operating model. An operating model needs to answer two questions; who is responsible and what are they doing. Does this sound simple? PMI research shows that this type of blocking and tackling is shown to improve your probability of success by 60%. Let’s drill down into how an operating model is created.

PMO Operating Model Development

Establish Who is in Charge
One of the biggest lessons learned from the healthcare.gov project is that there needs to be a clear project structure. A project office is an organization and requires a structure. The responsibilities all individuals must be described to assure that there is no confusion about what activities are performed. A group of key stakeholders should be deployed to provide overall guidance and direction to the project office. This is similar to a board of directors of a company (steering committee). The difference is that steering committee members are not outside directors. They have a stake in the success in the work of the project offices and will provide political support to the projects and decisions made by the steering committee.

Define what the Project Office does
PMOs differ in scope, size and level of automation; based on their maturity and desired corporate objectives.  Successful PMO’s must perform the following capabilities:

  • Prioritize work- Prioritization ensures that resources are focusing on the appropriate projects. In my experience, there are always resource constraints. The project office works with the steering committee to apply money, people and time to drive business value. The best practice is to deploy tools that can quantify and rank projects based on their business value and risk and or feasibility.
  • Drive consistency- Project management consistency enables increased scalability and transparency.  A clear set of uniform tools and techniques should be deployed to assure that change, risk and issues are being managed effectively. Risks and issues are the leading indicators of project performance. Mitigating risks and resolving issues assure that a project will deliver its project benefits.
  • Govern performance – Reporting provides visibility into key project metrics that keep project teams and leadership informed and on track. It is true that what gets measured gets done. If a project comes off the rails, the key is to know as soon as possible and to make course corrections quickly.

In my next installment, I will cover how to assure that the PMO is operating effectively. If you have questions or comments on establishing your PMO, reach out to Ray Trotta at rtrotta@westmonroepartners.com.

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