“Our first attempt at starting a PMO [project management office] ended in failure. We underestimated the training aspect. All the handbooks and templates in the world are not much use if project leaders do not know how to apply them. But since then, we have been able to establish an effective PMO function. There is no set formula for success, but if I could give just one piece of advice, it would be this: Get control of the project initiation process before you do anything else.
“In most PMO-less companies, projects start up all over the place, and for the strangest reasons. The inbound queue is always full beyond capacity, and any attempt to get discipline around project execution is doomed. (Some of you may remember the I Love Lucy episode where Lucy and Ethel are working on the cookie assembly line. It keeps going faster and faster as quality of execution goes downhill.)
“To start the PMO you need to get control of what you do before you can start improving how you do it. We started with a simple Project Planning Pipeline report that categorized projects into Active, Next to Start and Proposed. With a few simple rules around how to ’activate’ a project, our customers quickly got used to the fact that we are doing fewer concurrent projects, but we were going to execute them well. This set the stage for adding project management methodologies, training, tools, support and all the good things that PMOs do to improve execution.”