PMO Role Definition, Rollout Plan Critical to Successful Projects

By Genevieve Bautista

Research studies find that the majority of projects are unsuccessful – more than 70% in some industries – and that includes those managed by a project or program management office (PMO). If this is so, what factors should be considered when establishing a PMO in an organization? What can one do to ensure that a PMO will be successful?

First and foremost, you must define and understand what the role of the PMO will be in the organization.

A PMO can serve in various capacities depending on the objectives. For example, will it act as a central pool of project management resources to support projects within various functional departments? Will it serve in an oversight or governing capacity to administer standardized project management methodology and tools? Will it serve as a reporting body to communicate program or project status to senior leadership?

The list goes on, but the point is clear: it is important to first define its function and understand the value it will bring to the organization, in whatever capacity that might be. Without role definition and a strong value proposition, you will have difficulty gaining support and buy-in from leadership, which is essential to the PMO’s success. In addition to leadership, it is important to understand how various stakeholder groups within the organization will be impacted and benefit from the PMO.

Once you have leadership and stakeholder support and clarity around how the PMO will function, you must take the time to plan in detail how the PMO will be stood up (e.g. structure, resources, policies, processes, etc.) and how its various functions will be rolled out to the organization. Many projects fail due to lack of adequate planning, including but not limited to gathering detailed requirements and developing solid change management, risk management and stakeholder communication plans.

In this same manner, establishing the PMO and introducing it to the organization requires a detailed plan. This not only ensures that the stated objectives will be met, but that the organization at large is prepared to effectively interface with the newly formed PMO.

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