Promoting the Project Management Office

project management office promotion

Written By Andrew Makar

Professional Cat Herder and an Agile Enthusiast with a keen interest in putting PM theory into actual practice.

Project Management Office: Learn how to market and promote your PMO

New project management offices often face skepticism and outright resistance, especially in organizations lacking project management maturity. Here are five actions that emerging PMOs should take to communicate their purpose and functions, and a downloadable template to get started.

As a project management office is established, change management, communication and marketing efforts are required to educate the larger organization about the PMO’s purpose, functions and services. Implementing a PMO and marketing its services is an exercise in change management. Without a clear explanation of the benefits of the PMO, employees can become skeptical, even hostile, due to distorted perceptions of process bureaucracy. The following actions highlight key communication activities that should be taken to implement and market a PMO within an IT infrastructure management organization.

Develop a Project Management Office Charter

Implementing a PMO is a project! As such, a project charter should be created to formally recognize the undertaking, and to document the PMO implementation goals, objectives, high-level scope and other key issues. Like any other project, PMO implementations have stakeholders and sponsors. Use the PMO charter as a deliverable within a PMO marketing plan and share it with others interested in the purpose and scope of the PMO. At Projects@Work, a sample charter outline can be found in the article  “3 Must-Haves for a New Project Management Office.” Often, individuals within an organization are reluctant to follow PMO requests primarily due to a lack of understanding about the PMO. The PMO charter helps communicate its purpose and obtain buy-in.

Define the Key Functions

While the project charter formally recognizes the PMO, a PMO scope document helps describe the functions and services provided by the PMO. Depending on the format of the charter, the key functions may be integrated into the charter as an appendix or referenced in a separate scope document. PMOs can provide a variety of functions based on need and their level in the organization. “The PMO: Form and Function” describes a variety of PMO functions.

Develop a Project Management Office Handbook

Once the PMO identifies is scope and functions, the next step is to develop the PMO handbook. Much like a football team’s playbook, a PMO handbook helps describe tactical steps and standards required to implement PMO functions. Within information technology organizations, system support teams often use a run book that describes how the computer system is supported and operated. The PMO handbook provides similar instruction on how PMO functions such as governance, performance management and project portfolio management are implemented. The PMO charter, scope document and handbook can be shared with other PMOs as a best practice to develop consistent processes across the enterprise.

Develop a Project Management Office Overview Presentation

Any change management effort requires frequent communication, and a PMO implementation is no exception. A PMO road show can describe the project charter and the PMO’s key functions and benefits to the entire organization. The road show can also provide an overview of how governance, risk, issue and scope management were implemented. In addition, the presentation should address how to engage PMO support and describe future goals for the PMO. Once the road show is developed, it is time to “socialize” the presentation. You’ve spent a significant amount of time defining the PMO; now you need to share it.

Develop a Communication Plan

Just like any other project, a PMO implementation requires a communications plan. Identify key meetings where the PMO road show can be presented, from staff meetings to all-hands department meeting. And post the presentation on the organization website. One of my PMO mentors, Mike Hartwell, provided sound advice to “keep waving it in their noses.”
Moving forward, invite stakeholders to the PMO’s project portfolio review. Communicate the portfolio and individual project performance metrics. For projects with cross-organizational dependencies, sharing visibility into the portfolio will open up lines of communication and foster cooperation.

These are other actions a PMO can take to market itself in an organization lacking project management maturity. Your exact marketing plan will adjust depending on the PMO’s type, scope and position within the organization’s hierarchy. Remember: marketing your PMO is an ongoing project.

One effective way to communicate the benefits of the PMO is to establish a project management community of practice. The community of practice can form a common forum where project managers can share ideas and help improve and further promote PMO practices.

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