How to Set Up a High-Performing PMO

Assuming a strategic plan is sound, there are many factors that determine the success of a company’s change initiative. As discussed in HighPoint’s Keep the Change – Making Business Transformations Work, internal determinants can include the ability (or inability) to persuade established mindsets, counter cultural resistance, overcome project complexity and resource constraints, establish and maintain open channels of communication, and attain commitment from leaders, stakeholders, and employees throughout all layers of the enterprise.

No small feat.

But with oversight from a Project Management Office (PMO), it becomes far more likely that success will be achieved. Further, a PMO can provide early warnings when a project is derailed and work to help get it back on track.

But how do you ensure a high-performing PMO? At HighPoint Associates, we believe there are three elements to a PMO’s ongoing effectiveness:

Appoint a recognized and respected PMO leader.

Most large companies have a resource pool of career project management professionals who are skilled at developing project plans, tracking milestones, and measuring change. Their role is to make sure execution progresses smoothly at the project level. However, for critical projects with high degrees of complexity, it is important that the PMO leader is someone from the business who is widely respected in the organization and is viewed as a peer by leaders responsible for delivery of the change initiative. This credibility gives the PMO leader an ability to steer the project and hold leaders accountable to initiative timelines and results with greater commitment and less pushback.

Organize an active and invested guiding coalition.

Well run change initiatives are often governed by a committee that represents primary stakeholders throughout the organization. For example, a major portfolio rationalization exercise would involve leadership from the business units as well as sales, manufacturing, and human resources. Large change initiatives need to be governed by a high-powered yet sufficiently knowledgeable, active coalition that is engaged and can make swift decisions in order to maintain the pace of the project and get things done. Having a guiding coalition also aids in the management of change and facilitates organizational buy-in.

Establish and maintain cadence.

Successful change initiatives must have an agreed upon pace from Day 1, including buy-in from senior stakeholders even before launch of the change initiative. Meeting objectives and logistics–including participants, structure, pre-work, and even something as trivial as securing the ‘right’ conference room – need to be tightly managed in order to maintain momentum. While all skilled project managers have useful templates that put this in place, it is important to adapt these tools for each specific project to maximize efficiency. Even at the PMO leadership level, keeping a watchful eye on pace will translate into a higher likelihood of achieving desired results.

A Project Management Office has the ability to shape and implement change by managing complexity, facilitating communication, leveraging program leadership, and embedding change within the corporate culture. By providing the PMO with active guidance and establishing an appropriate cadence, a PMO is more likely to successfully drive strategic change.

Learn more about the power of PMOs in HighPoint’s and 5 Ways to Get More Value Out of Your PMO.

Is your business seeking strategic change that sticks?

The top-tier consulting team at HighPoint Associates brings substantial experience setting up and supporting a highly transparent, visible, and results-centric PMO, allowing your business to execute rapid, meaningful outcomes against strategic imperatives with effective change communications, resourcing, and pace. For better, faster results, contact HighPoint Associates.