5 PMO Strategies to Drive Your Association’s Success

Best Practices : Article

A Project Management Office or PMO is a group or department that defines and maintains standards within an organization.  A PMO in your organization will save you time and money which means it will significantly contribute to the overall success of your association.  If your association doesn’t have a PMO, you should seriously consider investing in one.

Below are my top five strategies to get you started:

1. Start with a Roadmap! Developing a roadmap will help you focus on the goals you set for the year.  It allows you to prioritize by quarter what’s most important to your organization and if you don’t get to it, that’s ok, you can move it to the next quarter.  No initiative is too small for your roadmap.

Start by thinking about your objective or focus for 2018.  Make an outline of the initiatives you want to tackle (big or small) with obtainable milestones that support your objective or focus.  Then add these items to your roadmap in bulleted format in your desired order.  Set some time aside each week to review your roadmap and to update status.  Share your roadmap with your team and executive staff so they have a clear view of the goals you’ve set for the year.

2. Create Templates! Creating templates will save you and your teams a ton of time.  Got a new project?  Great, go to your PMO folder and grab your New Project Package which is full of templates you need to initiate your project.  Templates ensure efficiency and consistency throughout the organization and project lifecycle.  Create a Project Charter template.  A Project Charter has all the high-level information around your project.  All projects should have a Project Charter so create a template and the project lead can quickly complete the charter and move on to the next task.  There are many other templates you could create by thinking about your process.You should also have a document repository that everyone in your organization can easily access and where all your templates live.

3. Small Wins are still Wins! We often think we must tackle the biggest project to “get things done”, that’s not always true.  Focus on one goal and break it down into obtainable milestones.

For example, New Employee Onboarding sounds like it could be a small project but really, it’s pretty big.  The IT department has action items, Payroll, the Office Manager, and the Hiring Manager all have a to do list, and of course Human Resources has their own list of items to do to successful welcome a new team member to the organization.  This is a good-sized project with many moving parts.  Instead of trying to tackle the full Onboarding Process, start with the IT department.  Get the team together to make a list of items they must complete to onboard a new employee (new laptop, email, etc.).  Then, using your project management tool (in our case Wrike) add those items to a new project plan called New Employee Onboarding.  The IT team can assign tasks to each other, set dates and dependencies, notify one another if a task has been completed and now the next person can start working, comment or ask questions.  What we’re doing is cutting back on questions, emails, and other distractions.  The team has a clear view of what is expected of them and due dates.  This is a small win.  Do this exercise with each functional team and once each piece is built, then put them all together.  You now have your big win, the New Employee Process.

4. Develop Processes and Workflows! Put it the time now to develop processes and save time later when a project is initiated.  After you create your process, pair it up with a visually appealing workflow that is easy to read and understandable.You can start by drawing on a whiteboard or even a piece of paper the sequential order of the steps in the process.  Once you have the steps drawn out, use a visual tool like Microsoft Visio or Microsoft Word works too to make it look pretty and digital.  Under each step, I like to add some key action items as a reminder to the team of what will and need to be done to move to the next step.  This also helps with standardization.  A process and workflow can always be better, don’t be afraid to make changes as you go…continuous improvement!

5. A Tool is a Must! Stop using applications like Microsoft Excel as a tracking mechanism for your projects.  Find a project management tool that’s right for your organization.  This is also not an easy task, take your time to find the right one.  Make a list of your “Musts” and “Would be Nice”.  Obviously, budget is one of the main factors and usually a constraint when choosing the right tool.  Find a few that fall into your bucket and compare them.  Do a demo, ask questions, and get a trial and sandbox site to do some real testing.Using a project management tool will help with collaboration, communication, efficiency, standardization (make project plan templates!), reporting, and transparency.  It will cut down on time and as you know, time is money!

Following these steps will get your PMO off the ground.  Next, focus on adoption and governance of your PMO and remember, not everyone thinks like a project manager so try not to over complicate things.

Keep calm and make things happen…


About the Author

Valarie Moschella is a project management rock star. As the director of Virtual’s PMO, she focuses on defining and managing standardization throughout the company. For staff, this means access to a robust framework of process, templates, documentation and more. She has coupled all that with a powerful project management tool and created a culture at Virtual that embraces project management best practices. This is not only valuable to Virtual but also our clients, who benefit tremendously from our staff’s deep knowledge in project management which helps them achieve their organizational goals.

Check out Val’s favorite client success story and learn what sport she was a Junior Olympian in on our Expertise page.

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