Ingredients for a Successful PMO Implementation

By Serene Chiew, LEED AP

UCSC Extension Spring 2010 PMO Course Student

Implementing a PMO is like cooking a Thanksgiving turkey.

Like implementing a PMO, cooking a turkey requires a lot of planning and preparation work. You need to find the right recipe, choose the right process and tools that are appropriate to your skill level and the right-sized bird suitable for the number of guests. Are you going to deep-fry your turkey, or are you using a traditional roasting process? Which type would your guests enjoy more? What are the risks of deep-frying?

There is a lot of pressure and expectation as well. Your guests are all looking forward to the final product so that the Thanksgiving meal can begin. How do you achieve success and “customer satisfaction”?

Just as the size of your dinner party and the preferences of your guests may change from year to year, the size, character, and needs of organizations are different from company to company and from industry to industry. Depending on these needs, the kind of structures, roles, and functions of PMOs can vary widely [2]. Aligning the type of PMO, its functions, roles, and implementation processes to the needs of your organization will help you to implement your PMO successfully.

How do you begin to do that?

You will need to understand the environment that your organization is operating in and its unique characteristics, needs, and challenges. [3]

Understand your industry

  • What are the risks, challenges  & work processes unique to  your industry

Understand your company

  • What are the business goals of your organization?
  • What kind of challenges is your organization facing?
  • Is there a high-rate of project success?
  • What are the PM experience and skill levels of your people

Understand your culture

  • Does your corporate culture allow and celebrate change?
  • Are people more “traditional” and subscribe to the idea: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”?

How to Plan

Now that you have a list of unique needs, characteristics, and challenges, you can begin your planning and “cooking” processes.

Choose the right type

  • Which of the 3 types of PMO is more appropriate?
  • Do you need a Project, Program, and/or Portfolio Management Office?
  • What PMO functions and roles will meet the business goals of your organization?

Choose the right process:

  • Which PMO implementation process is more appropriate for your organization?
  • Do you require a phase by phase roll-out or a “big-bang” roll-out?

Obtain executive support

  • Do you have complete and sustained executive-level support?
  • Do you have senior executives who will champion your cause?

Rally the people

  • Are people resistant to change?
  • Is everyone onboard with the PMO implementation?
  • Do they see its value and relevance?
  • Do you need to evangelize the idea of the PMO?
  • What kind of training and mentoring program does your organization require?

Out of the four “ingredients” above, obtaining executive-level support will be critical. [4] With executive support, you can rally the people in your organization and get their acceptance and commitment to the PMO implementation process.  If the selection of the type of PMO or its implementation process is found to be unsuitable, these decisions can be modified.

Just as a Thanksgiving meal cannot take place without a host, it will be difficult to implement a PMO in any organization without the support of your executives.


1. Hobbs, Brian. “The Multi-Project PMO: A Global Analysis of the Current State of Practice.” Project Management Institute. (accessed June 18, 2010).

2. Young, Michael L. “Key Steps to Implement a Project Management Office.” Project Smart. (accessed June 18, 2010).

3. Bucero, Alfonso. “How to Change Project Culture through Implementing a PMO: a Real Case Study.” Zulanas Consulting. (accessed June 18, 2010).

4. Egeland, Brad. “The Successful Project Management Office.” Project Management Tips: Guidance for Real Life Situations. (accessed June 18, 2010).


1 thought on “Ingredients for a Successful PMO Implementation”

  1. Shailesh Ardhapurkar

    Ms, Rosemary,

    Good article and well written and covered most of the aspects of PMO and in your language all necessary ingredients for TG cooking. In todays world, most organizations already have “supposedly” a PMO in place. The maturity of the same is another question. I guess you have to add 2 more aspects into your article. Former being if they are able generate good metrics, if they are using the right templates in various stages of projects. Now a days having a PMO is mandatory or a Feel Good Factor but the ROI is not looked at.

    Thank you

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