How to Build a PMO from Scratch

It’s tough to build a whole new office from scratch — or really, to do anything from scratch. In fact, when the phrase “from scratch” first emerged, it referred to the starting line of a race, which was customarily scratched in the ground. And, yeah, let’s just say bolting off into a racing sprint from an idle position doesn’t sound too fun.

Similarly, it can seem pretty overwhelming to build a project management office (PMO) without any playbook or resources to help you. And while we’ve extolled the virtues of building that PMO, we haven’t actually explained how to build it.

That’s where this guide comes in.

Here, we’ll share six steps you can take to start creating your own PMO — including how to set your goals, fill the right roles, and choose an adaptive platform that meets your needs.

1. Assess your project management resources

First, it’s important to take stock of the project management resources you currently have at your disposal. This can give you a foundation or jumping off point for your PMO, and help you understand where the gaps are in your operation. If you have a great project manager, for example, they might be able to lead your future office. Or if you have a solid project management platform, that can serve as a central hub for your new team members. 

Also, you might have existing PM documentation or reports that you can analyze to set benchmarks, best practices, and identify areas for improvement.

2. Decide on your PMO goals

Once you know where your current project management needs stand, you can start to define the overall goals for your PMO. What are your biggest priorities? Your short- and long-term KPIs? Maybe you’re looking to reduce risks, find new revenue opportunities, or streamline project workflows. Also, this is the time to start deciding what role the PMO plays in the organization as a whole. What will the PMO’s scope be? Which teams and departments will be involved? 

At this step, you might put together a mission statement or PMO charter to clearly answer these questions and map your objectives.

3. Choose your type of PMO

PMOs come in different shapes and sizes. So before you start pitching stakeholders and making hires, it’s best to determine which type of PMO you want to run, such as:

  • Supportive PMO — Assist project managers with helpful resources and insights without having a say in high-level strategies and decisions.
  • Controlling PMO — Make sure project teams comply with certain tools and standards to keep workflows streamlined.
  • Directive PMO — Have full, direct control over project portfolios, strategies, and decision-making.

Depending on the size of your organization, you might also define which level of PMO you want to build, such as:

  • Individual PMO — Support one specific project or small group of projects that need individual attention.
  • Departmental PMO — Support any project for a certain business unit or department.
  • Corporate PMO — Support projects across the entire enterprise, setting standards and KPIs for all types of programs and teams. A corporate PMO should have tools in place to foster alignment and collaboration throughout the organization. 

4. Get stakeholders on board

Project management works best from the top down. That means your PMO will only be successful if you have executive buy-in from the start. Because there has to be an organization-wide commitment to efficient and effective project management. The good news is, if you have your PMO charter or mission statement already written out, you’ve done the hardest part. Now you just have to clearly communicate these goals and values to the necessary stakeholders.

If you skip this step, on the other hand, you might face major issues or pushback down the line as you continue to grow your PMO.

5. Fill your PMO roles

Once you have your roadmap and stakeholder buy-in, you can start to fill your PMO with the right talent across key roles, including:

PMO director

The PMO director is the leader of your new office. Their job is to manage and oversee all projects, processes, and standards across functions. They’re responsible for ensuring the moving parts of this office runs smoothly and meets its overall goals.

Project managers

Project managers are responsible for coordinating specific projects or project portfolios from start to finish. This involves assigning tasks, setting timelines, monitoring spend, allocating resources, assessing risks, and reporting to stakeholders.

Project analyst

Project analysts report to project managers, ensuring that tasks are being completed and workflows are being properly executed. Project analysts might also conduct research for project plans, track metrics, and compile reports.

Project controller

Project controllers are similar to project managers and analysts, but they often have the distinct role of monitoring a project’s budget, schedule, revenue, and goals. They’re also responsible for spotlighting potential risks in the project timeline, adhering to project standards and benchmarks, and suggesting strategies to optimize results.

IT experts

IT experts help oversee and troubleshoot the technical functions of a project, including project management software, company hardware, and shared databases. PMOs might also want one or two IT experts on call to address any technical issues that might arise.

Trainers

PMO trainers are responsible for getting project managers up to speed with the software, skills, and documentation they need for success in their roles. This might involve onboarding new hires, updating current PMO staff with new standards and regulations, and providing ongoing support for agile project management.  

Administrators

As with any office, your PMO might need a few administrators to handle day-to-day tasks and keep business running smoothly. For example, you might hire administrators to distribute project reports, schedule meetings, coordinate with stakeholders, and organize project documentation.

6. Choose your PMO tools

This might seem like…a lot. And it is! But, to tie this back to the point above, you don’t actually have to start your PMO from scratch. With an adaptive project portfolio management platform, you can automate and optimize most of these processes. And keep your teams, tasks, and stakeholders updated in real time every step of the way.

In fact, that’s why Proggio exists — to streamline projects, foster collaboration, and create alignment across your entire organization. So your PMO can focus on crafting innovative strategies and meeting business goals. And let Proggio take care of the rest.
Ready to build out your PMO with the right tools? Book a demo with Proggio.