Why you need a PMO and how to start building one
By Bucky Jobe, VP Operations, Moovila
In every growing company, there comes a time – often after a moment of panic – when leadership decides to put a project manager, or a project management office, in place to organize work that’s starting to feel out of control and chaotic.
It happens like this: Everybody is working hard. The marketing department is focused on marketing. The IT team is taking care of tech. Developers build code while accountants track the money and salespeople close deals.
Suddenly a deadline looms and the situation is so dire that the captains declare, “All hands on deck!” Everyone works long hours. The client is unhappy and team members approach burnout. It becomes clear there aren’t enough resources for the scheduled work, so you bring in contractors.
The budget takes a hit.
After the dust settles, you hold a post-mortem where it’s easy to see that the crisis could have been averted if someone had organized the work and resources with a weather eye on the strategic plan – and that deadline.
The conclusion? You need a project management office.
A new problem emerges
You quickly discover, though, that this solution comes with too many options. Should each department create a functional project manager role? Should leadership budget for a project management office and staff it with PMs? If the latter, should those PMs manage projects across all departments directly or act as consultants to help teams upskill around project best practices? Each option seems to suggest even more choices.
Then there is the question of hiring or promoting from within. Do you bring in skilled PMs – who may know nothing about your industry – to inject rigor into your processes? Or maybe you should identify someone on the team – or on each team – with a talent for organization and make them a project manager?
Because there are so many ways to go about this, many organizations go through this process multiple times. Leadership creates a PMO. It fails spectacularly because it brought in outside PMs who knew nothing about the business. Later, new leadership comes in and starts another PMO. It fails because it overtaxed essential team members by promoting from within. This happens over and over, each time in a different flavor of failure.
The need to organize the work is real. But creating and establishing a project management office is complicated and difficult.
Perfect Project meets you where you are
In the last two decades, I have built many PMOs, and have seen many ways to approach it. But let me suggest that instead of jumping straight to throwing money and time at that problem, you step back and look at the problem you are hoping a PMO will solve: The work is disorganized. You need better control over it. That means you need more visibility into the work – across your entire portfolio.
Everyone doing the work – from the C-Suite to the team leaders to the coders – needs to know what they are supposed to do, what everyone else is doing, what is important today, and how it all fits into the strategic plan.
Wherever you are in your PMO journey – in the postmortem where you decide you need a PMO, in the process of hiring or upskilling PMs, or maturing in your methodology and processes – a specialized PM tool, like Moovila’s Perfect Project, can meet you where you are. Moovila developed this unique solution to offer best-in-class project management automation, as well as real-time resourcing and portfolio visibility features, to solve the common problems I, and so many project management leaders like me, have faced. It will give you – the people doing the work – the transparency you need to stop the chaos.
It knows everything and is AI smart
From initiation through close, Perfect Project connects your teams and disparate data to ensure integrity and transparency in your plans. Perfect Project is your source of truth, connecting all project work, information, and communications in a single location to provide real-time insight into status, risk, and resource capacity.
The AI monitors every detail in your projects and keeps a health meter on each. So, instead of asking a PM or department for a report on who’s working on what, where deliverables stand, or what resources are free or over allocated, you can see everything you need on a dashboard.
High-level portfolio views and dashboards will show you the real-time status of every project. Highlighting the projects that need your attention and allowing you to drill down to see why one project is getting a poor rating. And you can often fix it – right within the tool – by reallocating resources, say, updating the timeline, or checking in with the people involved via in-app chat.
Everyone involved has access to the level of information they need – within one tool. The dashboards only show information relevant to and appropriate for the person using them. The security controls let you stipulate who has access to what levels of information.
Your PMO is empowered.
If you hire project managers or spin up a PMO Perfect Project will help them hit the ground running, without asking the staff to attend daily standups or do cumbersome reporting to track the work. Your PMO will have a robotic assistant who knows what everyone is doing and what needs to be done.
That robot – our RPAX engine – has three essential elements.
Critical Path Automation
Perfect Project will help your PM build a well-structured plan clearly identifying the critical path for any project quickly and easily – without doing a lot of complicated math – and then keep it up to date, even as the project evolves, people’s schedules change, and new projects are added to the portfolio. The critical path view provides an easy to understand diagram of your project schedule – from start to finish – with all the tasks and milestones that are critical to meeting the completion date in order. And because Perfect Project connects to teams’ calendars, it will instantly identify schedule changes and conflicts – even if they occur across projects and in the future – alerting the PM to problems.
Schedule Monitoring and Scoring
Instead of making your new PM act like a detective, holding meetings to prize clues from suspects about the status of projects, RPAX monitors every project in your portfolio. The portfolio view ranks the projects by health, giving each a clear score so your PM can focus on the most troubled projects first. Then it guides her to the biggest problems in those projects so she can deal with them. It points to specific tasks that are late, blocked, or that have a resource capacity problem and it offers solutions to these problems so she can reallocate resources or message task owners to get things moving or negotiate new timelines.
An AI-powered Project Management Coach
Carmen is a built-in AI teacher who helps your accidental project managers – people promoted from within – learn and implement project management processes. If RPAX uses a term or references a process or practice that’s unfamiliar to the new PM, Carmen is a click away. She will guide him through the debugger, identifying problems and offering solutions as well as offering on-demand micro-learning segments that teach him why this practice is important and how to use it. Perfect Project will upskill your newly formed project managers as they manage projects and create consistency and scalability in your projects.
Maybe you will start a PMO. Maybe you already have. Or maybe you won’t. Whatever you do, if you have Perfect Project on board, your team members, C-Suite, and PMs will have the visibility and control over the work they need to calm the chaos and sail comfortably prepared into every deadline.
PMO Readiness Resources
Building out a PMO office not in your wheelhouse? Looking for some guidance as you begin the journey? Don’t worry, with Perfect Project, you’ll be onboarded by a skilled team of project management professionals who can guide you on best practices and how to setup and run optimal project plans utilizing our AI-driven tool.
Schedule a demo of Perfect Project to find out how it can help – right now – with your work management problems.
You can also start by downloading our Project Management Office Checklist to ensure success for your project-driven organization by unlocking key PMO strategies, guiding your path to excellence from goal definition to software selection, even in challenging market conditions.:
Bucky Jobe is the VP Operations at Moovila, overseeing the delivery of Moovila to users and partnering with clients to ensure success. Bucky has worked in several project leadership roles building PMOs across diverse organizations and is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP), PMI-Agile Practitioner (PMI-ACP), Scrum Master (CSM), and a Lean Six Sigma Blackbelt.