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5 Ways to Run Your PMO Like a Franchise

pm pmo project delivery project management Feb 08, 2023
5 Ways to Run Your PMO Like a Franchise

Any town, anywhere, is sure to have at least one street lined on both sides with fast food places such as Starbucks, Taco Bell, Wendy’s, Burger King, Dunkin’, and Chick-fil-A. Heck, KFC and Pizza Hut are across the street from the Giza pyramids in Egypt! Like it or not, restaurant franchises have taken the world by storm. 

Why is that? Because the franchise business model works. Companies are able to set up locations relatively quickly, train staff, follow a standard process, and deliver repeatable experiences. A cup of coffee at Starbucks in one part of the world is going to taste exactly like it does at a Starbucks in a different part of the world. 

What’s the experience that your customers and stakeholders have when they work with your PMO? Is it the same every time? Or, are there inconsistencies based upon who’s running the project, its scope, or the client who needs it? If experiences vary, follow these five principles of franchising to transform the way your PMO delivers projects this year! 

  1. Become a Provider of Value - People exchange their hard-earned money for goods and services because they feel what they will receive outweighs the expense. They’ll spend money to quench thirst, eliminate hunger, exterminate bugs, change oil, and a host of other needs. The gap between what they pay and receive is the value you provide. 
    Same concept when it comes to your PMO. For example, when someone works with your project management team, the cost may be expressed as dollars in exchange for PMO services. Or, it may be in time, such as additional processes or meetings to ensure projects are delivered properly. If you can point to the gap between the cost and value your project generates, then your PMO is a provider of value. 
  2. Have Well-Trained Employees - Franchises are well-known for their rapid training of entry-level or low-skilled people, and plugging them into the machine to provide goods and services almost immediately.  
    Your PMO should operate the same way with new hires, whether they come on as your team expands or are inherited at the junior level from other parts of the organization. Make sure your training plans and programs educate them in how you operate, the principles you follow, how to deal with the administrative side of things, and certainly how to deliver your PMO services. 
  3. Be Disciplined and Orderly - Franchises that operate at peak performance are like a well-oiled machine. Managers know exactly how many employees need to be there to handle the load and what must be done. Store, district, and general managers follow up to ensure everything is running as planned. Regular inspections are a must and adjustments are made based on those results. 
    Make your PMO a well-oiled machine with random project audits to make sure all necessary processes and procedures are being followed. For example, it’s easy to end a project without proper close-out procedures or compiling lessons learned. If you skip these steps, you risk future problems, or will lose out on major opportunities for improvement. 
  4. Have Well-Documented Processes - Every franchise follows Standard Operating Procedures, i.e., step-by-step instructions in an Operating Manual, or Guide to how the business runs. Procedures include anything from how long fries need to be in the oil, to how frequently the restrooms are cleaned, to what paperwork needs to be done at the end of every day. 
    When it comes to project delivery, your PMO should also adhere to processes that have been documented. These include your project lifecycle, templates to be used, what to do when things go wrong, and how to communicate the value of what your projects have delivered. 
  5. Provide a Uniform Experience to the Customer - When you walk into a franchised restaurant, you know what to expect. Every Taco Bell, Burger King, or KFC is going to have a similar menu, consistent quality (or lack thereof 🙂), and a familiar pricing structure. Rarely will you be surprised with how much better or worse your experience is from one location to the next. 
    Your PMO needs to offer a uniform experience as well. When people engage with your team they should expect a consistent level of service, responsiveness, and professionalism from all your project managers. Do you know what will make this happen? Well-trained employees, disciplined and orderly service, and documented processes. This will help ensure everyone has a consistently good experience with your team. 

As a PMO Leader, there’s plenty to learn from about how franchises operate. Review the five points above and make adjustments to your PMO as necessary. You may not be selling burgers or chicken, but you will be able to satisfy your stakeholders’ craving for projects that deliver value!  


Five Ways to Operate Your PMO as a Franchise  

The franchise model works all over the globe for many reasons. The following five franchising principles can be applied to your PMO. 

  1. Provide Value - Your PMO needs to be in the business of delivering results and benefits to your customers. Once a project is complete, help them understand the value it generates within their organization. 
  2. Train Your Employees - Make sure new and tenured employees alike are all operating the same way. Develop training programs about how you operate and the principles you follow and ensure everyone has a clear path to have any questions answered. 
  3. Be Disciplined and Orderly - Trust but verify project manager performance. Regular random audits that check to see all processes are being followed will go a long way in keeping things orderly. 
  4. Have Well-Documented Processes - Include the right amount of documentation for the team to follow. Focus on the “big rocks” that make a difference in how your team operates and leave the smaller stuff up to personal preference. 
  5. Deliver a Uniform Experience- Make sure each stakeholder you engage with has a consistent experience when working with your PMO. The experience should be the same regardless of project size, budget, or people involved.  

Follow these five principles to make sure your stakeholders come back for more projects in the future! 


Franchise / Franchising - A method of distributing products or services involving a franchisor who establishes the brand’s trademark or trade name and a business system, and a franchisee who pays a royalty and often an initial fee for the right to do business under the franchisor’s name and system. - Source: International Franchise Association. 

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