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  PMO Assessment and Establishment
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PMOs (Project Management Offices) are established by enterprises that engage in projects on a regular basis. Some PMOs take a PMO Lite approach (mininal formal reporting and status review); others favor PMO Heavy (formal required reporting with periodic status review meetings or audits).


The decisions that have to be made by an enterprise in setting up and operating a PMO have to do with its business objectives. The schematic above clarifies this. PMOs that have Staffing and Consulting as well as Reporting / Audit / Intervention objectives are very different from ones that have only one of these two goals.

A PMO whose goal is to supply PMs to projects, and then support them as necessary is a centralized HR function for project managers. A PMO whose goal is to provide consistent summary reporting across a large number of projects is a project control office.

Project control offices tend to implement PMO Heavy, since this makes their job easier. PMOs that provide and support PMs tend to support PMO Lite. They believe a competent PM, once assigned, will implement the level of reporting and control appropriate to the project. PMOs that have both objectives - PM HR center and project control office - need to find an appropriate balance between Lite and Heavy approaches.

Staffing the Head of the PMO role is a crucial decision. This individual’s personal beliefs about the objectives of the PMO, PMO Lite and PMO Heavy must align with the business objectives the enterprise intends to achieve. Not all individuals with PMO experience can adapt to the needs of a particular enterprise.

Roelf will help you clarify which PMO objectives are right for your culture and business. He will then help you establish appropriate business processes for the PMO and select PMO tools whose underlying design philosophy is consistent with your PMO business objectives. This will allow your PMO staff to implement the appropriate level of PMO procedures. Roelf can also review an established PMO, and help re-align it to your enterprise’s business objectives.


XNT Enterprises had established a single PMO for all its construction and IT projects. The office operated well for several years. Then the IT organization indicated that it needed a PMO of its own. Senior IT staff said that it was not possible to continue to combine a construction PMO with an IT PMO. The underlying work was simply too different.

Roelf met with Bill, the head of the PMO. He asked Bill to tell him what Bill saw as the objectives of the PMO. Bill responded “Consistently report on all projects to senior management. Provide project status summary reports that flag those projects that are in trouble, so that steps can be taken by management to correct them. Bill viewed the responsibility for intervening into projects in trouble as senior management’s, not the PMO’s.

Roelf met with the senior IT management and asked them the same question. They responded. “Find, develop, assign and support our IT project managers. We never really have enough good ones. When they are on a project, they don’t have time to do professional development. We need the PMO to manage their work load so that they do get a chance to grow, not just work on project after project.” When Roelf asked about project reporting, they responded that IT project reporting needs were was different from construction project reporting needs. It did not make sense to use a common summary format for both types of project. They were not getting the information they needed to manage their projects.

Roelf then met with senior executives in charge of construction. They indicated that they were quite happy with the current functioning of the PMO. Construction projects tend to be large. Vendors and contractors often supplied their own PMs. These construction executives wanted a consistent picture of the status of their various projects, so that they knew where things stood. This allowed them to interact with the vendor PMs from a position of strength, based on up-to-date project status knowledge.

Roelf facilitated a meeting in which these findings were reviewed by Bill, senior IT management and senior construction management. Everyone agreed that it was time to establish a separate PMO for IT. They also concluded that is was important to maintain a consistent format for summary reporting to XNT’s senior management. The infra-structure needed to produce this information will be different for IT and construction, meeting each of their detailed project information needs.

As well, the IT PMO will become the organizational home for all IT PMs, whether staff, independent contractor or IT vendor. A head for this IT PMO will be recruited, either internally or externally. Roelf was asked to actively work with XNT’s HR group to forward this recruitment. The head of IT, Bill and Roelf will act as the final candidate selection committee. Once the individual is in place, Roelf will work with the new person to start the process of setting up the IT PMO.


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