Creating a Project Management Office Enables IT Function to Perform More Consistently
A global pharmaceutical company restructured its North American information technology (IT) department to help it handle an ever-increasing load of IT projects. To ensure consistency in its performance, the IT group decided to establish a Project Management Office (PMO). A PMO would set standardized processes to ensure that any IT project - from installing a research database, to enhancing email security; would be performed using the same high-quality methods. The company engaged Integrated Project Management Company, Inc. (IPM) to lead its PMO effort.
From the get-go, there was considerable resistance to establishing a separate project management office. The 70-member IT department included five functional groups, from application development to network management, which were hesitant to relinquish their autonomy. In addition, there was a measure of bias against IPM because it is not a software-development firm
As a first step, IPM enlisted approximately 40 internal staff members to play an integral role in designing their PMO. Via a rigorous interview exercise, they assessed their current project management process, which ascertained the project’s scope; how the allocation of resources (manpower, budget) was determined; and how the project roles and responsibilities were defined. When did problems occur? Where were the gaps? IPM facilitated cross-functional teams that developed methodologies, tools, and templates to address these gaps, leveraging the company’s vast in-house knowledge and IPM’s process expertise. This collaborative method helped build trust in IPM, and buy-in to the value of a centralized project-management approach.
For the new PMO to be successful, however, its project managers had to be well-equipped to perform. As software developers and network technicians, few had been formally trained in project management, which requires specific interpersonal and leadership skills. IPM conducted a project-leadership training program that covered critical areas, such as, how to keep coworkers on schedule despite lack of reporting authority; how to lead effective meetings; how to mediate disagreements; and when to take issues up the chain of command.
After the initial training, IPM taught the group how to use their customized tools and templates within the context of good project-management practice. IPM designed hands-on exercises, using real-life work scenarios, to allow the team to practice their new skills and technologies in a non-judgmental environment.
IPM successfully led the creation of a fully functional PMO complete with processes, tools, and templates tailored to the company’s culture, structure, and specific project management needs, as well as a staff trained in project-management best practices. Of critical importance, IPM helped the team create a means to capture lessons learned for a legacy of continual improvement.
According to the IT team, IPM’s training programs exceeded their expectations. In evaluations, 100 percent of the participants said that they would recommend the project-management fundamentals training to their peers.