Eight steps to creating a successful PMO

Matt Austin
PMO becomes organisational structure of choice.

As Saudi’s Vision 2030 mega projects gather pace, the development of governance structures, processes and procedures has become fundamental. Project management office (PMO) is widely accepted as the optimal organisational structure, embedding global best practice into the Kingdom’s largescale capital projects and programmes.

Let’s take a look at the aims of the PMO. These go beyond programme and project level, to supporting the organisation as a whole. The PMO aligns with business goals, and interrogates, implements and improves processes and procedures. It looks outwards to the business’s supporting ecosystem, analysing information, identifying risks and proposing solutions. The relationship between programmes is also part of PMO responsibility, reviewing dependencies and conflicts. Most importantly, the PMO can bring long-term business transformation.

Here are eight key steps for PMO set-up and delivery

1. Swift start

The PMO can best influence the programme set-up if it’s involved from programme inception, with the PMO team making an early start on analysis of the programme and familiarisation with existing business structures and systems.

2. Review governance structures

The PMO operates at programme level, and governance is similarly programme-focused rather than project-focused, with a corresponding Work Breakdown Structure that aligns with the demands of the programme. This multi-layered approach supports the scale of the programme, resolving the numerous contracts, payment certificates, and variations requiring signed approval.

3. Review critical processes

The programme management plan includes the identification and development of robust processes, determining their place in the schedule. Some processes, such as procurement, will have greater priority in the programme’s early stages. Ongoing monitoring of these processes will contribute to further analysis against the programme schedule, supporting development of KPIs and identifying any problems.

4. Preparation and monitoring

Key documents typically include a programme management plan, baseline programme, cost plans, budget, cash flows and commitments. Their careful preparation is vital, to record and measure the programme as it progresses, and to supply data for analysis.

5. Well-defined procurement

Robust processes and resources are critical for a successful procurement exercise. These address the challenge of aligning with key stakeholders on procurement roadmap, monitoring and planning, enabling the desired outcomes within the project’s expected timeline. Well-defined procurement also supports intelligent vendor management and makes best use of tools such as framework agreements.

6. Collaborative approach

Successful integration with the client organisation is vital. A close and collaborative relationship, where the PMO is integrated into, accepted by and invested in the organisation, will deliver best results. The PMO’s intent needs to understand the client’s business requirements, identify risks, conduct careful analysis and demonstrate robust evidence of best practice. Typically, the collaboration between PMO consultancy and client brings not only strategic and operational change, but culture change too.                                                                     

7. Digital transformation

A successful PMO creates an effective data management and reporting framework, including standardised forms and templates for use by the supply chain. This contrasts with the unwieldy volume of data and reports traditionally created on programmes, and instead provides accessible programme-wide information that supports the client’s operational and management teams, and its Board of Directors. The PMO also offers an excellent opportunity to explore and adopt wider digital transformation.

8. Opportunities for training

Vision 2030 seeks to provide employment opportunities for Saudi nationals and the PMO can be instrumental here. Example of PMO legacy can include:

  • Training to support future transfer of PMO roles into the client organisation.
  • Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and graduate training for client teams.
  • Knowledge exchange and Project Management Professional (PMP) training courses.
  • Investment in training academies to develop skilled local workforce.

Bringing global best practice to KSA PMOs

Faithful+Gould provides PMO services globally in both public and private sector commissions and has over 50 years’ experience of creating, operating and transferring PMOs in the Middle East region.


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