PMO Key Initiative Overview

Archived Published: 05 February 2010 ID: G00173662


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This overview provides a high-level description of the PMO Key Initiative. IT leaders can use this guide to understand what they need to do to prepare for establishing and operating a PMO.


The PMO is responsible for improving project performance in an organization. It supports the management of projects and ensures that their results meet enterprise needs.

For more than a decade, PMOs have been regarded as necessary management structures to ensure project success. Establishing and managing a PMO is a critical initiative that can bring major benefits to the organization. These benefits include better project timeliness and quality, reduced risk of project cost and schedule overruns, and better value for project funds spent. Organizations with a well-planned and well-run PMO generally see a 20% improvement in project results.

Consider These Factors to Determine Your Readiness

Creating and managing a PMO is a complex undertaking, so organizations need to be sure they are ready to take it on. Before getting started, organizations should plot strategies on how they will:

  • Assess the organization's culture and its program and portfolio management (PPM) maturity to define the format of the PMO.

  • Develop or recruit the appropriate staff for the planned PMO.

  • Determine how resources for programs and projects will be managed and located in the enterprise.

  • Measure the PMO's contribution to project success.

  • Select appropriate project management tools.

Conduct Your PMO Initiative in Six Phases

Gartner recommends that IT leaders follow six major phases to establish and operate a PMO. These phases may vary depending on the organization's program management requirements and maturity:

  • Strategize and Plan: Understand what models exist for setting up a PMO. Consider how long it has taken others to get the PMO started or restarted. Consider the impact of a PMO on the IT strategy and operating plans of the business units.

  • Assess Current State: Assess the enterprise's history and approach to the goals of the discipline. Identify and seek feedback from key stakeholders and related roles about the current state — establishing what works and what probably won't work. Identify risks.

  • Assess Competencies: Use feedback from key stakeholders and from external sources of advice to develop best practices for the discipline that are appropriate to the organization now. Identify the competencies that are necessary to operate a PMO.

  • Gain Approval: Draft a proposal for implementing a PMO. Seek feedback and buy-in from stakeholders and related roles. Revise the proposal based on feedback from stakeholders, and present the final proposal to senior leaders for approval.

  • Implement: Staff and manage the implementation of the PMO. Seek 360-degree feedback from all stakeholders. Monitor risks, and stay focused on results.

  • Operate and Evolve: Use governance systems to track the operation and success of the discipline. Adjust the style of the PMO based on operational results and changing business needs.

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