The term Project Management Office (PMO) has a rising role in many industries; its role varies between being a support office for other entities of the organization to a strategic entity that helps senior management in implementing strategies on the ground.

We all know that establishing a PMO can help you regain control of a failing project. A PMO should enable the organization to implement processes and methods that help the organization, not only meet their technical goals, but also accomplish the processes around the implemented technology. The PMO should be neutral in the management role that it plays—operating as a centre of excellence and as the custodian of the methodology chosen for the project managers.

When they were established, many PMOs chose only one methodology for solving their organization’s problems. They were simply following the standard structure. However, over time, not just project managers, but project sponsors and program managers started asking for different methodologies to manage their projects with.

How can you let each project team choose a different methodology, such as Waterfall, Agile, PRINCE2, Kanban, Scrum, and still be able to help them succeed? It’s easier than you think! First, let’s agree that the PMO is not a policing organization. It’s not the PMO’s role to monitor and control a project’s budget, or resources or scope! This is the project manager’s and sponsor’s role (along with other related departments).

In addition, all these methodologies have one common goal… to make the project a success. There are certain tasks that need to be included in every project, such as reporting format. This is the governance part of the PMO; identifying high-level objectives and requirements. The second part of the PMO function should be support; providing guidance on which methodology to choose for a project, or even for a work package. This also includes training around the chosen methodologies.

In short, the most commonly used methodologies include:

PRINCE2 (PRoject IN a Controlled Environment) is a structured, process-based approach for project management. This method is the de-facto standard for project management in the UK and is practiced worldwide.

Waterfall is a sequential design process, in which progress is seen as flowing steadily downwards (like a waterfall) through the phases of Initiation, Planning, Analysis, Design, Develop, Testing, Production/Implementation, and Maintenance. PMI’s PMBOK is well suited to waterfall types of projects.

Scrum is a simple, yet incredibly powerful set of principles and practices that helps teams deliver products in short cycles; enabling fast feedback, continual improvement, and rapid adaptation to change.

Agile project management is an iterative and incremental method of managing the design and build activities for projects in a highly flexible and interactive manner.

Kanban is a method for managing knowledge work with an emphasis on just-in-time delivery and reduced work-in-progress tasks. In this approach, the process, from definition of a task to its delivery to the customer, is displayed for participants to see; and developers pull work from a queue.

As you can see, each methodology has different strengths. To survive and thrive, a PMO’s best approach would be to provide knowledge, guidance and mentoring to project teams; helping them choose and apply the right methodology to fit the requirements of the project.

PMO roles are included in the change

Once we introduce the PMO, we have six major pillars of change in building any PMO, and they are:

  • New methodology
  • New policies and procedures for the projects
  • New knowledge base
  • New repository for the project managers
  • Alignment with benefits and strategy
  • New software

In fact, the change process has to go in parallel with introducing each pillar of the change; we have to match between the new pillars, the organization, and the people.

How to build a PMO?

All the PMO experts know the basic phases of building the PMO, and these phases are:

  • Selection of the PMO type: the objective is to select the PMO type that suits the business model and the existed operational processes that will interact with new project management processes.
  • Induction and Education: the objectives are to:
  • Clearly introduce the importance of project management in general and the PMO in particular, explain the exact role of the PMO.
  • Train and coach selected employees on project management.
  • Methodology and Change Management: the objective is to design the PMO processes and methodology taking into consideration the customization to suit the organization through a change management process.
  • Governance: the objective is to install and introduce a governance model to review and approve project progress at each stage of the project life cycle.


The ADKAR model is a framework for understanding change at the individual level; the model was extended to cover many business industries to increase the likelihood of a successful change.

The ADKAR level has five elements; all the five elements must be in place for a change to be realized.

PMO’s Journey with DevOps

We live in a fast-paced environment; change is happening much quicker compared to the past. There are new trends in the market, organizations are starting to tear down the barriers between business and IT, and projects are expected to deliver results much faster.

DASA (DevOps Agile Skills Association) labeled this as ‘Digital business transformation” or ‘digital disruption’. In today’s reality, organizations do not have a choice to wait or defer these disruptive innovations!

Traditionally, IT waits for a feature request, then PMO assesses and assigns resources and processes for centralized IT operations to make it happen. As you may already have heard, DevOps is a new way of delivering IT services. It helps organizations to completely rethink – or reset – their IT operations. DevOps is a philosophy similar to Agile, not a process or methodology. It is a holistic view of how to accomplish better alignment, collaboration and empathy between IT Development and IT Operations teams.

So, what would be the next step if you are managing a PMO?

Rethink traditional project practices and capabilities and how it’s aligned with IT and the business. If business and IT want to deliver a valuable product to the market faster and cheaper, then what should the PMO do? The PMO should be able to add value to the process without slowing the business down or adding additional cost.

DevOps helps organizations to completely rethink – or reset – their IT operations.

Last but not least, follow the 6 DevOps principles:

  • Customer centric action
  • Create with the end in mind
  • End to end responsibility
  • Cross-functional autonomous teams
  • Continuous improvement
  • Automate everything you can

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