The PMO Series (4): Implementing a Project Management Office

Linh Tran, Monday 08 May 2017 | Reading time: unknown

So you want to implement a project management office (PMO) into your organization? This four step guide will help you establish a project management office successfully. 

The implementation of a PMO is just like any other project. This means that you have to plan it carefully. Before you start the project, you should analyze your organization’s current situation and based on these insights create a concept for your PMO. If it is the first PMO implementation in the organization, it’s particularly important that the PMO is aligned with the organization’s requirements and frameworks.

Transparency is the key to success

The most important factor for a successful implementation of the PMO is that you’re honest with all stakeholders during the entire course of the project. The buy-in and support from your team members and upper management is particularly important. You need complete transparency before, during and after the implementation process. You should also keep stakeholders in the loop by continuously communicating any changes or issues to them. Doing so will help you get the most important stakeholders on board and build a strong foundation for your PMO implementation.

Implementing a PMO in four steps

Every PMO implementation is unique, so just like there’s no one-size-fits-all PMO, there’s no ultimate guideline. But there are four elemental steps most PMO implementations have to go through: 

Four Steps of Implementing a Project Management Office (PMO)

Analyze the current situation

The first step of implementing a PMO is to analyze the current organizational situation. This enables you to get a detailed insight into your current project management maturity and helps you identify some of the requirements for the new PMO. The analysis includes looking at PM methods, processes and tools and at current projects.

Additionally to the analysis, create a project list which gives you an overview over all projects for which the PMO will be responsible. This list will also make it easier for you to estimate how many PMO team members to hire and what responsibilities the PMO will have.  

Create a concept

The next step is to create a realistic concept for the PMO. The analysis of the current situation and the identification of requirements for the PMO will serve as a basis for the conceptualization. Decide whether you want to establish an operative PMO, a controlling PMO or a strategic PMO (see The PMO Series (3): The Different Project Management Office Types). By identifying the type of PMO your organization needs, you are also setting the objectives for the PMO. This in turn enables you to accurately define what areas of responsibility the PMO should hold. Your concept should also include important PM processes and methods, which the PMO should maintain and enforce later on.

Implement the PMO

The next step is to implement the concept step by step. You should appoint a PMO manager and the PMO team members at this point (see The PMO Series (2): The Most Important Project Management Office Roles). It’s important to prepare and train the PMO team for the tasks and responsibilities that await them. After you have assembled your team, it’s time to implement the concept and the PM processes and methods.

Transition into normal operation

The implementation phase is followed by the transition into normal operation. This means that you and everyone else who supervised the implementation of the PMO should retreat from the PMO. The PMO team should now transition into normal operation and be able to do their work independently and without your supervision and support. But stay available to the PMO team in case any further questions or issues should arise (e.g. schedule regular review meetings with them).


Previous articles of our PMO blog series:

PMO 1: Definition and Function of a Project Management Office

PMO 2: The Most Important Project Management Office Roles

PMO 3: The Different Project Management Office Types



(Original text by Kathrin Jungwirth, translation by Linh Tran)

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