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How PMOs Can Help You Meet Project Deadlines

Business processes Teams
As companies grow, they inevitably face the need to improve internal processes, organize effective communication, and manage documentation efficiently. Without these elements, coordinating the work of a large team becomes challenging.

Establishing a Project Management Office (PMO) can be a powerful solution for a company looking to synchronize teams, enhance processes, and meet deadlines.

A PMO provides the necessary control, risk management, and support for key projects, ensuring their efficient execution and addressing the following issues:

  • Missed Deadlines: Projects are not being completed on time.
  • Resource Overload: Teams are overloaded and unable to manage their workload effectively.
  • Lack of Transparency: There is a lack of clear visibility into project progress and potential issues.
  • Inefficient Processes: Internal processes are inefficient, leading to wasted resources and efforts.
  • Poor Risk Management: Risks are not being identified and addressed early enough, resulting in unexpected problems.

If these issues are present in your company, you have likely already considered establishing a team of project managers or a Project Management Office.

In any case, before building a new team, you need to answer several questions:

  1. What are the goals and objectives of the PMO? Define the main goals of creating a new team: improving project management, standardizing processes, increasing efficiency and project success rates.
  2. What functions and services will the PMO provide? Decide what services the PMO will offer, such as methodological support, risk management, training, quality control, monitoring, and reporting.
  3. What resources and competencies are needed for the PMO to succeed? Determine what skills and resources will be required for the PMO, including qualified staff, tools, and technologies for project management.
  4. How will the PMO integrate into the existing organizational structure? Decide how the PMO will interact with other departments and management levels, how communications and reporting will be organized.
  5. What metrics and indicators will be used to assess the PMO’s effectiveness? Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) to assess the PMO’s performance, such as the percentage of projects completed on time and within budget, client satisfaction levels, and project quality.

By answering these questions, you can set expectations for the future team and understand which type of PMO is most appropriate.

PMOs

PMBOK, the project management guide from PMI (Project Management Institute), describes several types of PMOs. While you can find dozens of other types online, the options from PMI are likely to meet your needs:

Supportive PMO
The purpose of this type of PMO is to provide projects with consulting, methodologies, templates, training, and recommendations. The level of project control is minimal here. The PMO team focuses on providing support and assistance.
Best suited for: Organizations with a decentralized project management structure, requiring guidance and support rather than direct controlю

Controlling PMO
Provides support and control over projects. This includes ensuring that projects adhere to methodologies, standards, and project management tools. Unlike the Supportive PMO, this team ensures that projects comply with established standards and processes.
Best suited for: Organizations that require a mix of flexibility and standardization, ensuring projects are consistent and compliant without hindering the creativity and efficiency of project teams.

Directive PMO
This PMO has a high level of control and responsibility for projects. This type of PMO not only provides methodologies and standards but also actively manages projects, ensuring strict control and project execution.
Best suited for: Organizations that require a high degree of consistency and alignment with corporate objectives, where centralized control is crucial for project success.

Below, I will share some of my experiences in building PMOs in companies at various stages of development and with different team sizes.

My experience

Case #1: Big-size company
Company industry: Telecommunications
Number of employees: Over 30,000

Projects: An ambitious, large-scale project to launch a new billing system for a subscriber base of over 70 million. This project, which ultimately lasted 7 years, was managed by a PMO and included numerous subprojects for implementing and launching additional services, preparing for migration, testing, and much more. A dedicated PMO was built specifically for this project, bringing together the efforts of hundreds of engineers and managers.

PMO: This was a Controlling PMO that regularly reported on the status of the work and helped overcome any obstacles to success. At that time, I led a small tech team responsible for testing the new billing system, which was developed concurrently with its implementation.

Most teams did not have dedicated project managers; instead, team leads partly performed these functions, sharing updates at regular status meetings. The project’s complexity was due to the volume of work, timelines, and technical nuances (the software was mainly developed by a contractor, while the implementation was done by the mobile operator’s staff).

Results: The Project Management Office organized cross-team collaboration between internal teams and contractors. The project was large-scale and lengthy, but the established processes helped maintain team focus and successfully complete the project despite organizational changes.

Case #2: Mid-size company
Company industry: Fintech
Number of employees: 500-1000

Projects: Technical and product development projects, such as co-branded cards, an electronic wallet, and a loyalty program with cashback.

PMO: Before the PMO, the company had several project managers working only in one business direction. This caused difficulties with major releases — there were few, and launch dates often shifted by months. There was also a problem with interaction between the technical team and the business.

I built a PMO consisting of project managers and business analysts. Thus, the PMO could cover the requirements formation stage, helping the business formulate their needs correctly, and manage the Delivery stage to ensure product updates were delivered on time. This PMO was close to the Directive and Controlling PMO, acting as a coordination center (we called it the “flight control center”).

Results: The PMO’s work resulted in several major mobile application and company project releases. Would these projects have been realized without a PMO? No, as the issue with project launches had lasted over a year

Case #3: Small-size company
Company industry: Crypto
Number of employees: 100-200

Projects: Technical and product development projects, such as an on-ramp widget, a trading terminal, mobile apps for the exchange, and improvements to the custodial wallet.

PMO: Before the PMO, there was no Project Manager position in the company (only a project coordinator). The company tried to build product development led by a Product Owner, allowing Scrum work but eliminating deadline forecasting. As a result, there were only 2 major releases in the past year. With the creation of the PMO team, we reviewed project workflows, introduced documentation templates, and redefined the teams’ SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle). The PMO team consisted of 9 PMs, divided into 2 groups — PMs for technical teams, who helped coordinate team efforts and deliveries, and project managers, who led large cross-team initiatives. Regular project check-ins were organized to keep all team members informed.

Results: As a result, the company brought long-term projects to production and launched new ones. Over the course of a year, 18 major releases were launched.

In my experience, establishing a PMO significantly improved internal processes and enhanced communication transparency between teams. This led to better outcomes and enabled faster, higher-quality project launches. If your company is struggling with missed deadlines, opaque processes, and excessive bureaucracy, it may be time to rethink your approach and organize a dedicated team to manage these challenges.