How to Build a Project Management Office From Scratch

Most think of a project management office (PMO) as an easy-to-organize group of leaders within a project. In some cases, this may be true.

However, building a PMO from scratch requires careful attention to detail and standard processes. Fortunately, you can simplify the process by following these steps.

Step 1: Define What Type of Project Management Office You Need

There are differing degrees of a PMO, which include standards setting, governance through control of the project, delivery of a project successfully and business strategy. However, each higher tier requires you to have the pre-existing form in place. In other words, a strategic-driven project management office  will need standards, governance and delivery processes.

Step 2: Identify Which People Will Lead the PMO

You need to know who will be involved in your PMO, and these individuals should reflect your type of PMO. This may include project managers, risk analysis experts, information technology experts, program managers and C-level officials and beyond.

Step 3: Define the Processes and Tools Needed by the PMO

Your project management office will also need a specific set of standard processes and tools in order to be effective. Use business intelligence tools to help you plan out dashboards for members of the PMO, and define what the overall goal of the PMO will be.

This will help you determine what processes may need to be refined, and you will be able to begin working more effectively.

Step 4: Assess the Maturity of Your PMO

The maturity of your project management office is a reflection of how well it meets or exceeds the planned expectations of the body. Your PMO should be optimized to create and manage budgets of a portfolio on an annual basis, and insights for a project should be gleamed in real time.

Obviously, an optimized PMO is the best form, but if you can identify ways to change processes to reach this goal, you can help the PMO evolve to a productive, long-term benefit for the organization.

Step 5: Define a Path Toward Success Within the PMO

Similar to the goal of attaining an optimized PMO, you need to create a way to assess and manage the effectivity of a PMO throughout its creation and development. This may include the use of metrics to track the performance and benefits of the PMO on an individual and group basis.

Using this information, create a series of steps to follow in order to reach the target goal of your PMO as well.

Step 6: Focus on Using Current Experiences to Enhance the PMO

Your PMO is comparable to a living, breathing creature. Draw on the experiences of PMO members to help your PMO grow and evolve. If a situation causes problems within the PMO, get all members involved in brainstorming ways to overcome the issue.

This will also help to build the skills of your PMO members, which will effectively help you adapt to attain the benefits of an optimized PMO. In essence, you want the PMO to a proactive measure and all processes should be tracked and managed in real time.

Creating a project management office from scratch does not have to be a complicated process. Follow these six steps to help you create and grow your PMO into an effective, successful entity in your project.

Key Things to Remember

  • Identify the level of PMO you need, and determine which people should be involved first.
  • Define your practices, tools and standards needed within the PMO, and assess the maturity of the PMO.
  • Create a roadmap toward an optimized PMO, and use the current experiences and capabilities of the PMO to create this path and reach a mature state.