Are You Currently in the Process of Establishing a PMO? Or Are You Concerned About How to Manage the Progression Of The PMO Within Your Organisation?

If the answer is yes, then today’s podcast is one for you. In this episode, Liz Doyle, Director at Casseo, discusses how to establish and manage a successful PMO and how best to manage the PMO’s evolution and development within your firm.

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We at Casseo, see the establishment and management of an organisation’s PMO as being of crucial importance within the overall business structure. With this podcast, we aim to breakdown the various steps involved, from Type Identification, Establishment, Managing Progression through to Diagnostics and Remedial Change. We discuss the various issues that can arise along the journey and the pitfalls to be aware of along the way.

PMO Stages of Development

Type Identification: The first stage in the process of establishing a PMO is ‘Type Identification’. This is the most important and vital piece of work when it comes to establishing a PMO, in terms of really getting it right for the organisation you are working with and giving the business what it actually needs from a PMO.

There are various types of PMO’s to be considered in detail, from a Basic PMO that manages the implementation of a common framework and reporting standards through to Strategic Enterprise Level PMO’s. Then there are various stages of maturity within each of those types also, so it’s really key to address the actual business requirement. We have seen PMO’s fail a number of times because they were established with the viewpoint of say ‘here’s what I have seen work well in another organisation’ or ‘this is the only type of PMO I have been exposed to so that’s what a PMO is to me’.

In practice, the decision should be based on a full assessment of the organisations culture, the current project management capability and maturity level and the upcoming requirements in terms of project and program delivery.

Establishment: Once the type requirement identification has been completed and agreed upon, Establishment is progressing on with a structured plan to set the PMO up within the business and managing that journey from start to finish. Depending on the type of PMO being set up and the organisation you are working with, this can range from a simple enough exercise to quite a lengthy and complex one.

Managing Progression: Following on from a successful establishment phase, the PMO requires active management for it to succeed. In practice, that can refer to two specific areas, either;

The organisation may have an existing functioning PMO that now needs to be taken to the next stage and it may not be staffed with the resources to manage that progression within the business,


When you have identified that the business requires a certain type of PMO and for various reasons, most likely cultural, it was determined to start at the beginning and build it up over time managing it through the various stages of progression and maturity.

Diagnostics and Remedial Change: This stage typifies where a PMO already exists and for whatever reason it is no longer meeting the business requirement or is starting to be deemed more as an overhead than an effective function. It often takes fresh eyes to come in and understand the current PMO offering, assess that against the business requirements and determine the Target Operating Model and the best approach to get there.

Common Constraints Experienced When Establishing a PMO

There are quite a few common constraints to take into account when it comes to establishing a PMO. The keys ones to highlight are:

The first and possibly the most common is understanding and dealing with the existing perception of ‘what exactly a PMO is’, either within the organisation in general, or with some of the key stakeholders. The reality is people’s perceptions will always be based on their own experience to date. They may have never worked in an organisation with a high performing effective PMO and that can mean you find yourself in a position where the business may need to establish a strategic, enterprise level PMO but the existing perception is that it’s an administrative or policing type function that will help the PM’s do their admin!

Secondly, it is crucial to ensure that the staffing of the PMO is aligned to the type of function that is required by the business. By way of example, if you need to implement a strategic guidance level PMO, it should be staffed accordingly and that means with people that have been the ‘soldier on the ground’, managing the projects or programs themselves at some point and because of that can operate with a 360 or holistic viewpoint and be respected as a credible delivery leader by the existing PM community.

Similarly, you can have a challenge on your hands, albeit not an insurmountable one, if the experience and capability of the existing PM group isn’t aligned to the portfolio or roadmap of work that the organisation now needs to deliver on.

PMO Methodologies & Delivery Models:

At Casseo, we do not favour one methodology over another. We are about what works best for the business and that is always about establishing a common framework and ensuring that this is understood across the organisation. It’s not about which methodology is best, they can all be effective if used correctly.

As with the methodologies and frameworks, there simply is no delivery model that’s a one size fits all. It’s down to the culture of the organisation and the type of projects that need to be delivered. For some projects ‘Agile’ might absolutely be the right answer and the quickest route, however for others a ‘Waterfall’ approach might be better or as is often the case a hybrid. It is important to always come back to the point that it’s about doing what works for the business not what’s deemed to be the latest greatest thing. That said, it’s important to point out that to manage a roadmap of projects, using a variety of delivery approaches, you do need a mature and informed PM community and an effective PMO.

Doing it ‘right first time’ is our single most important piece of advice for organisations looking to establish a PMO. It can be a costly endeavor that only serves to confuse things and frustrate the organisation if it’s not done properly. Organisations need to ensure they work through the Type Identification phase properly to set themselves up for success from the outset.

For organisations that have an existing PMO that’s no longer deemed to be meeting the business needs, we would say that if it’s gotten to that stage, it signifies that the PMO hasn’t grown with the business or moved through the various stages of maturity when it needed to. It could be time to engage fresh eyes to assess the current PMO against the business needs and upcoming roadmap and to plan out the Target Operating Model and the path to success.

An effective and forward looking PMO can really be a game changer in an organisation and make everyone’s life much easier, from all the various disciplines working across projects to PM’s through to the executive sponsors, so it really is worth investing to get it right.

About Elizabeth Doyle

Elizabeth has extensive experience delivering Transformational Business Change and Project Management Solutions predominantly in the FS & Banking sector.

Responsible for leading our Dublin and London markets and Casseos overall strategic growth, Elizabeth is passionate about our clients success and ensuring Casseo remains their consultancy partner of choice.

A keen traveler, when enjoying downtime Elizabeth will most likely be found en route to the next location or enjoying one of her favourite cities.

About Casseo

  • Casseo is a leading consultancy firm offering a full range of Business Change & Project Delivery services.
  • With over 20 years in business, we have a consultancy network of over 300+ delivery & change experts.
  • We operate nationwide throughout Ireland and have operations in The UK (London).
  • Our offices are based in Dublin and Clare (Munster)