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5 Steps to Establish Your PMO’s Vision

career executive leadership pmo project delivery project management May 15, 2023
5 Steps to Establish Your PMO’s Vision

20/20 is the gold standard of excellent vision.  Without 20/20 vision, people do what they can to get close to that mark, from wearing glasses or contacts to having corrective surgery. Why? Because vision is vitally important! It helps you see where you are going, avoid obstacles, and so much more. 

Similarly, the vision for a PMO must be crystal clear. It’s your job as a company executive to define the vision and make sure it cascades down throughout the company. This will ensure your PMO knows where it’s going and avoid common obstacles along the way. When it comes to defining the vision of your PMO, where do you start? Consider the following 5 steps. 

  1. Assess the Need – Many companies start small, with “two-people in a garage” or at a dining room table, or some version of those scenarios. The sheer determination and willpower of founders ensures things (aka projects) get done. Only a handful of people are involved, and everyone is generally on the same page. When questions arise, all they need to do is ask one of the other few people on the team. 
    Eventually, growth changes this dynamic. Founders lay out their plans but notice things aren’t getting done the way they used to. There’s not a clear understanding of all the projects that are in flight for delivering value to customers or completing projects that, once operationalized, will increase revenue, decrease costs, increase compliance, etc. for the company. 
    Founders, owners, or executives need to step back and determine if there is a need to establish a PMO to make sure value is being delivered. If there is, move on to Step 2.  
  2. Define the Purpose - At this point you’ve determined that you need a PMO. But, why?  
    “To get projects done,” you may say. But, that’s not entirely correct. The reason WHY your PMO exists should be centered on providing value to your organization in one way or another. This is going to vary from company to company. Some companies may value financial results, others compliance, and yet others, market share and growth. 
    The interesting thing about WHY your PMO exists is that its purpose will likely change over time. For example, consider what happened when COVID hit. Prior to this black swan event, the purpose of the PMO may have been to deliver stellar financial results. Now, its purpose is to increase efficiencies across the company just to survive.  
    Hopefully, drastic events like COVID won’t happen frequently, but the reason WHY your PMO exists should be reviewed at least annually to make sure you are keeping up with changes in customer and stakeholder needs. 
  3. Create Alignment - The third step when creating and implementing the PMO’s vision is to get buy-in from the right people. Everyone needs to agree upon the vision, or the reason your PMO exists, and support its purpose. It’s like a road trip. The time to agree where to go is before everyone piles into the car. If you hit the road and then ask where everyone wants to go, you will hear as many different answers as there are people in the car.  
    How do you create alignment? Facilitate a discussion around WHY your PMO exists rather than dictating it. When people have input into their PMO’s vision, they are much more likely to get in line and support it, even if their idea isn’t fully adopted. At least they’ve had a chance to be heard. 
    By the way, The PMO Squad are experts at running facilitated sessions that create alignment with everyone! 
  4. Develop the Plan - You know what else helps with Alignment? Putting the PMO’s vision down in writing. This will keep it front and center for everyone to see and operate from. It also holds the PMO accountable for achieving the vision set forth by leadership. Likewise, it prevents leadership from punishing the PMO if leadership’s vision changes along the way, unbeknownst to the PMO. 
    A good plan starts with a Mission Statement, Objectives, Strategies, and Initiatives as well as Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).  KPIs are critical when it comes to the PMO’s acronym, which is Purpose, Measure, and Optimize. Once you’ve defined your purpose, KPIs help you measure and optimize.  
  5. Communicate the Vision - People can’t execute the vision if they don’t know what it is. Keep the vision in front of everyone every chance you get. Include it in company and team meetings, have everyone in the PMO put it into their email signature, make the Strategic Plan accessible and ask for feedback! The days of one-way dictatorial communication are over. Make sure PMO team members can comment on and shape the next iteration of your PMO’s vision. 

Following the steps above will help you define the vision for your PMO based upon WHY it should exist, rather than starting with WHAT it should do. So many companies start with the WHAT and forget about the WHY. If you start with the WHY, your PMO’s Vision will be so good you’ll never need to wear glasses again! 


How to Establish a Vision for your PMO 

As an executive, you need to start with why a PMO exists rather than what it should do. Make sure your PMO has a Purpose, you Measure results and progress, and Optimize performance regularly. 

  1. Start with the Why - This is the purpose or Vision of your PMO. Work with your stakeholders and team on why the PMO exists and what it is expected to accomplish. Be careful of jumping right into what your PMO will do, before clearly understanding why it exists.  
  2. Measure the Results - Compare the results and outcomes of your PMO against its purpose and vision. Is it achieving the expected results? Establish KPIs early on and review them on at least a monthly basis. 
  3. Optimize the Performance - Make adjustments to the way your PMO operates based upon the results of Step 2. This could range anywhere from continuing to do what you are doing, to doing something entirely different if results aren’t being achieved. 

Remember, in everything you do, you must remain nimble, agile, and reactive to the changes in your business environment. Otherwise, hindsight is 20/20! 


Alignment - The process of ensuring that the goals, strategies, and actions of different teams, departments, and individuals within an organization are in sync with the overall vision, mission, and objectives of the company. PMOs are instrumental in creating alignment because of their clear line of sight between individual goals, those of the organization, and how they are supporting the vision of the company. 

Vision - A clear and inspiring statement of your PMO’s long-term goals and aspirations. Answer the question of WHY your PMO exists. This vision is critical for any PMO to succeed, as it provides direction and motivation to work towards common goals. 

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