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Top 5

Requirements for an Effective Program Management Office (PMO)

by ISG

Many believe that “the proper role of a PMO is to help everybody become a good project manager” (Dean Meyer). While the PMO may provide program and project management support, PMO staff are often ignored and are relegated to completing reports and updating plans using non-standard tools and templates. The result is disjointed project plans and multiple reports that do not provide an organization the “helicopter view” it needs to make sound decisions.

CIOs know that to deliver their mandate to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of IT services and lead business-driven, IT-enabled transformation they need the right people, processes and tools in place for an effective PMO. Follow these Top 5 steps to build a PMO that provides strategic value focused on business optimization.

1. Create a centralized structure. Program and project managers should report directly to the head of the PMO who facilitates and directs program and project decisions. Expand governance so it can coordinate the management of all programs and projects. A centralized PMO will ensure understanding and communication across the portfolio of initiatives, programs and projects.

2. Establish a clear directive. A clear directive will improve the enterprise-wide portfolio, program and project governance and delivery. By giving the PMO the capability to advise the CIO on the best collection of initiatives, programs and projects to maximize business value, the PMO can establish an effective delivery capability framework to manage the realization of objectives and benefits.

3. Create value in each service. The PMO must be visible on the C-level radar, providing services that support the CIO.

  • The Delivery Management service should provide portfolio governance and program and project delivery oversight.
  • The Portfolio Management Analysis service should provide analysis and decision support capabilities for IT investment decisions.
  • The Program and Project Management Skills & Capability Assurance service should provide professional development, skills enhancement and training.
  • The Practice Management service should develop and maintain best practice methodologies, tools, processes and standards to promote and measure the quality of delivery.
  • The CIO Administrative Support service should coordinate the efforts of the CIO, CFO and business partners through communications, reporting, and decision support systems.

4. Create a clear objective. The PMO needs a clear understanding of the organization’s business requirements and a benefits management strategy to sustain benefits and maximize return on investment. The CIO should keep the PMO informed of the organization’s strategic and business drivers so that the PMO can align initiatives, programs and projects to these drivers and operate with a defined, quantitative purpose.

5. Get the staffing right. Maintain a cooperative working relationship across the organizations’ lines of business. Provide matrix-management of resources for the duration of the programs and projects. Provide line-management for service heads to enable continuous improvement of best practices for new and enhanced services.

For more information on how to optimize your PMO, contact Theodore Isaacs.