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Starting a PMO: the dream

Sharon Clements
March 4, 2011

I have a dream. A dream for new projects. I am standing in a conference room. I’m the PMO manager on a large project. It’s the project kick-off meeting. I’m not in my pyjamas. There’s a delicious spread of morning tea in the corner (including party pies).

An excited project sponsor stands before us, with the project manager. They are both highly respected individuals. They explain the vision, scope and the strategic fit of the project. Everyone in the room is nodding. They are also smiling; they want to be here.

Our project manager has extensive experience on projects of this nature and holds CPPD credentials. He’s a born leader, firm but fair, to whom people are drawn. He’s also funny, so we’re in for a few laughs on the journey. And, as this is my dream, he looks very much like Pierce Brosnan—we all could have used James Bond to save our projects at one time or another.

The format of the meeting follows a well-prepared slideshow on a giant screen, with the diligently prepared project management plan as its foundation. The lighting and images are spectacular and the data projector even works.
Senior management has given the project its full support. The business case approval process was swift. Key stakeholders have been briefed, with an engagement and communication plan in full swing. Core business units have been heavily involved to date, endorsing the benefits realisation plan as highly achievable.

My PMO team were engaged early. Lessons learnt from similar projects were reviewed with the project manager. The governance framework, reporting and project control processes coincided with the kick-off. Tools and process training, coaching and support will be readily available to all. As we’re a project managed organisation, we won’t have any problems with team members not following PMO processes. Status reports will always be on time.

Engaged early, HR had enough time to find the best people for the roles we needed. Business analysts who prepared the high level requirements will be staying on to complete the full requirements, saving us considerable time and pain.
The project administrator briefs everyone on logistical matters. I’ve worked with her before; a sharp analytical mind, she runs a slick operation keeping everyone on their toes.

Catering and facilities management in this building are five-star. The (real) coffee smells great. We may work hard, but we’ll be comfortable and well fed. On my last project we had milestone celebrations, pancake days, 10-minute massages and giveaways; looks like the budget has catered for that again.

A finance representative has joined us. Her assistance with formulating the budget was invaluable. Solid historical data was used, making the process relatively straightforward. She worked closely with our designated planner and scheduler, whose eye for detail and ability to pre-empt critical path impacts is impeccable.

Organisational change team engaged—tick; project assurance in place—tick; steering committee selected and briefed on roles and responsibilities—tick; architecture and security consulted—tick; risk workshop scheduled—tick; deliverables tracking and document management present—tick; dependencies identified—tick. This dream project is impressive; we’ve thought of everything.

As everyone leaves the room they collect a goodie bag containing a USB with key project information, an induction guide, a copy of the presentation and a corporate pen. As I leave, I grab one last party pie with the confidence that this will be a successful project.

I have a dream. A dream that new projects will run just as we would script them to run.

Sharon Clements
Sharon Clements is a PMO consultant specialising in PMO/Program Office establishment and management, governance, reporting and analysis, resource management, financials, communications, risk and issues management and process improvement.She is also a part owner of Dusty Cowgirl Designs, a graphic design, photography and art business.
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