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How to Create a Strategy for Your PMO

pmo pmo leadership project management Jun 26, 2023
How to Create a Strategy for Your PMO

The game of checkers has been around for a very long time. There’s evidence that it originated over 5,000 years ago in the ancient city of Ur in Mesopotamia, which is now Iraq. Besides being a great way to pass the time, checkers is also a simple lesson in strategy. The objective of the game is to win, and you do this by capturing or blocking all of your opponent’s pieces, causing you to constantly think two to three steps ahead.  

Likewise, having a strategy in place for your PMO is critical in order for your business to win. You need a comprehensive plan or approach designed to achieve specific goals or objectives, stay ahead of the market and competition, and adjust as circumstances change. This is where your PMO Strategy comes into play.  

But, how do you create a PMO Strategy if you don’t have one? Consider the following guidelines: 

  1. Define the Purpose and Scope of Your PMO - This is the reason WHY your PMO exists. Many feel the reason why a PMO exists is to get projects done. 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. Just make sure that the purpose and scope of your PMO ties directly into the vision your executive leadership team has established for the PMO.  
  2. Assess Current State and Close the Gaps - Once you know why your PMO exists, you can evaluate whether you can deliver what is expected. A good assessment tool to start with is a SWOT Analysis. Sit down with your stakeholders (executives, customers, team members, etc.) and determine the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats of your PMO. You can then leverage your strengths and opportunities and mitigate any opportunities or threats. 
  3. Create a Strategic Roadmap for Your PMOThere’s an entrepreneurial mantra that says it’s important to work on the business, and not in the business. Creating a strategic roadmap is the equivalent of working on your PMO and not in your PMO. Focus on where your PMO is going and what it will take to get there. This isn’t coming up with a list of strategic projects that you’ll be working on for your organization, but rather a list of projects you’ll be working on to make your PMO invaluable to the company. This could include initiatives such as creating a PMO playbook, delivering consistent project outcomes, hiring talented project management resources, and/or implementing a new project portfolio management tool. 
  4. Establish Metrics, KPIs, and Governance - Next, make sure that you have the right level of instrumentation in place to understand project performance. This includes not only the classic time, scope, and budget metrics, but more importantly, what value your projects generate. Additionally, make sure there is a mechanism for project governance (such as a Steering Committee) to make the decisions necessary if the strategic purpose of projects aren’t being realized, are struggling, or if the business environment has changed. 
  5. Continuously Adjust and Improve - Perform a regular assessment of your company’s strategy. Ensure that you remain aligned with your executive team’s reason why your PMO exists and adjust accordingly. The purpose of your PMO may change over time. The last thing you want to be doing is executing against an old strategy when there’s a new strategy in place. Plus, always look for opportunities to improve when it comes to delivering value to the organization. After Action Reviews, or Lessons Learned sessions are great opportunities for game-changing improvement. 

These guidelines, if implemented, ensure your PMO stays strategic on two fronts. First, you will be delivering projects that generate value. Second, your PMO will become an integral part in the success of the business. This may not help with your checker game, but it will definitely set you and your team up as a winner when it comes to achieving the PMO’s purpose. 



How to Create a Strategy for Your PMO 

A strategy is a comprehensive plan or approach designed to achieve specific goals or objectives. The following steps will help keep you aligned with your executive leadership team. 

  1. Know Your PMOs Purpose - Get with your executive team and find out why the PMO was created in the first place. You want to make sure that your PMO is supporting the goals and objectives that were considered important when the PMO was initially formed.  
  2. Work on Activities that Support your Purpose - It’s easy to fall prey to shiny object syndrome and chase after things that would be fun to work on, but not support the objectives of the company. Constantly review to ensure that your PMO activities are strategic in nature (aka as critical to the company) and not something that could be easily eliminated or outsourced. 
  3. Adjust as Necessary - Immediately adjust if you find you are working on non-strategic initiatives. Here’s a rule of thumb to follow - you either sell the goods or services your company offers, or you enable someone else to sell those goods and services. If your PMO is working on anything different, make adjustments. 

Creating a strategy for your PMO and following through on it is great for the company and great for your PMO! 


Shiny Object Syndrome - Shiny object syndrome is a continual state of distraction brought on by an ongoing belief that there is something new worth pursuing. It often comes at the expense of what's already planned or underway. 

Strategy - The strategic initiatives a company pursues to create value for the organization and gain a competitive advantage in the market. Strategy is crucial to a company’s success and is needed before any goods or services are produced or delivered. 

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