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Designing a PMO to Succeed and Survive

"It takes as much courage to have tried and failed as it does to have tried and succeeded"
Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Keywords: PMO, OPM3, GoPM, AS 8015.

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Designing a PMO to Succeed and Survive [P064] 

A PMO’s roles and responsibilities must be based on the organisations needs.  The PMO may be a ‘PO’ for projects, a COE (Centre of Excellence) for programs or an EPMO (Enterprise PMO) for portfolios. Regardless of its form, a successful PMO requires:
- Executive sponsorship
- Management buy-in
- A clear mandate (Authority and autonomy)

The PMO should contribute to the governance of projects. Effective project governance ensures that an organisation does the right projects, and does the selected projects right.  Governance and ‘good practice’ are defined in a range of standards including:
- OPM3, PMI’s Organizational Project Management Maturity Model
- AS 8015-2005 Australian standard for Corporate Governance of ICT
- GoPM,  The APM’s ‘Directing Change, a guide to the governance of project management.
- OGC’s Governance of Programme Management

None of the three standards totally ‘fits the bill’ for IT Project Portfolio Management strategy support, together they come close:
- OPM3 covers much of the necessary ground
- AS 8015 adds the specific ICT dimension
- GoPM fills in the governance section

There is reference to stakeholders as being important in all three standards but no practical methodology for managing them. The Stakeholder Circle™ fills this gap, it provides a methodology for identifying the ‘right’ stakeholders for each phase or part of the project/program lifecycle, understanding who is most important identifying their expectations and requirements from the project and managing their perceptions through effective communications.

To be successful, PMOs need to be more than administrative ‘police’. PMOs can add significant value in the strategy and relationship areas of the portfolio by focusing and supporting:
- Strategic alignment of projects and programs
- Benefits realisation
- Providing leadership in implementation of standards (the best aspects of OPM3; AS8015; GoPM)
- Managing continuous improvement
- Becoming the information Manager, facilitating open and targeted communications:
   - Between the various levels of the PMO (project, program and portfolio)
   - Between the PMO and organisation executives (summary reports, dashboards, etc)
   - Between project and program management  (health checks, performance metrics, Earned Value, etc)

Author: Dr. Lynda Bourne

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