Get the best PPM possible. PPM seems to be the tool of the hour, day and year. Project Portfolio Management – or PPM - is the centralized management of the processes, methods, and technologies used by project managers and project management offices to analyze and collectively manage current or proposed projects based on numerous key characteristics. Do we really need a PPM tool to do the PMO right? Yes. And not just a PPM tool, you need the right PPM tool for your organization, your types of projects, and your overall PM infrastructure needs. You may even want to really supercharge your whole organization with a hybrid PPM tool. One that allows you to combine the best of Scaled Agile with all major features of common PM standards including PMI, IPMA and PRINCE2. With a hybrid PPM you can work smarter by taking advantage of fully integrated agile methodologies such as Kanban boards complementing proven, traditional tools like WBS and Gantt charts.
Hire experience over certification. I may not be popular on this topic so let me have it. But seriously, in many cases the most experienced available project managers will likely be certified as well. I'm just saying I would not weed out any applicants over lack of certification. Rather, I will often weed out applicants over less than 'x' amount of experience - possibly 5-10 years experience minimum depending on the current project landscape for the organization.
Present the PMO's accomplishments to senior management. If project management office has had a successful and profitable run so far - and that's the only way you would want to present this (failure would just be... well... sad) - then formally present such info and metrics so as to sufficiently impress the higher-ups. Doing this positions the PMO strategically for funding, new resources and big dollar challenges as your c-levels see capabilities in the organization they might not otherwise realize they have.
Get leadership involved in the projects. This one is key. If you are executive management, get involved with the PMO. Look at the portfolio of projects. Help with funding. Show support of the director and the project managers. If you’re the PMO director or a project manager in the organization, invite a member of senior management to several customer project status meetings as a show of interest in the customers and the projects you’re leading for them. Get them to attend several project kickoff meetings if they don’t already do that. If your CEO is in attendance at a formal project kickoff meeting, I guarantee that you’re customer will feel important from Day One. And that’s a very good thing.
Summary / call for input
The functionality and performance of the PMO isn't often a direct factor in the success of many projects. Indeed, it is more of an enabler of success – helping to create a roadmap to success for projects overall and greater profitability, customer retention, and project manager development for the organization and the PM infrastructure. By planning, innovating and structuring our PMO to better serve our project managers and by positioning it and the organization to better understand what projects to take on with a solid PPM tool, we can help strengthen the revenue flow for the organization through a growing portfolio of projects. If you build it, they (customers) will come.
Readers – how do you feel about this list? What are your experiences in the good and the bad of PMOs? What would you change or add here? Please share and discuss.