Power of a PMO

Many organizations have a Project or Program Management Office (PMO). If not at an organization wide level, at least within the IT department. There are different models. Some PMOs provide standards, tools, canstockphoto10610367methodology and overall tracking. Others provide this foundation as well as a team of project managers (PMs) who can be assigned as needed to major projects. Our PMO at University Hospitals is the latter model.

Our PMO has evolved under our new manager, Joe Stuczynski. He and his team are making significant improvements with the support of IT leadership. They have developed a roadmap for further changes and improvements for the next year.

It is refreshing to be in an organization where we are not debating about the tools and whether they are good enough. We are not debating about what projects need to run through the PMO and if everyone needs to follow the standards.

Instead, we are embracing and leveraging the tools and the PMO is able to focus on what it should be – tracking projects and providing PMs to manage projects.

Our 90 minute weekly PMO meeting is attended by department leadership and PMs. It has a standing agenda that includes:

  • Action Items from previous weeks – represents a level of accountability and tracking
  • Process Updates – keeping everyone informed on changes
  • New Project Requests – these are later vetted through the IT governance process
  • Project Successes – acknowledging what was completed the previous week
  • Architectural Review Overview
  • Dashboard – shows total number of projects with Green, Yellow, Red project health by major area and change from previous week
  • Detailed review of each project in Red
  • Program review – each major area (i.e. business, clinical, ambulatory, infrastructure, security) is on a rotation for deeper dive
  • Scope Reviews for new major projects – provides chance to “connect the dots”, discuss any interdependencies and ask questions

Outputs from this weekly review that get posted on our IT visual management board are:

  • Project successes
  • Dashboard of all projects by health status

For each project in “Red,” we cover the issues, impacts and the action plan to resolve, as well as risks and mitigation plans. The green/yellow/red is noted for the project overall, as well as scope, schedule and cost. With this information at a glance, it is easy to identify where help is needed and what it will take to move the project from Red to Yellow or Green.

Scope reviews for new projects include summary, scope, business objectives, budget, timeline, and team members. Having a chance to discuss interdependencies and raise any questions or concerns is critical for a new project.

The PMO has a number of goals. Two are particularly pertinent here:

  • Improve Project, Program, Portfolio Management maturity – “get everyone on the same page”
  • Incorporate a continual self-evaluation process

Looking at the last few months, these two goals are clearly being met. And that’s powerful.

6 thoughts on “Power of a PMO

  1. Jim Yukech on said:

    Since you didn’t mention Resource and Capacity Management in your blog, it sounds like this would be the next step for your PMO at UH. Forecasting resource needs for new projects and IT work orders and maintaining the actual time required to accomplish all IT efforts positions the IT Leadership team to forecast IT capacity and augment as necessary.

    • Sue Schade on said:

      Jim, great point. That is still in our future and certainly part of the PMO roadmap. You are absolutely right on the criticality of resource and capacity management.

  2. Brynt Ellis on said:


    This is extremely helpful to hear that not only that you are using this process but it is also effective. Does the team use this feedback to level-load resources either staff or other? I saw that you noted that it is easy to see where help is needed but is the feedback actually acted upon.

    Thank you for sharing, I continue to look forward to your updates!

    • Sue Schade on said:

      Brynt, yes, we act on what we hear in these reviews. Very results oriented organization and we get a lot done. Thanks for the feedback overall.

  3. Mitch Parker on said:

    The PMO is an excellent idea, however, it is the standards and practices that make the PMO. Having the entire organization on the same page with buy-in from organizational leadership is key to any initiative. PMO gets a bad name due to implementations that have ignored that key step.

    • Sue Schade on said:

      Mitch, UH appears to have buy in from organizational leadership. Don’t know the full history but it is respected and results are good.

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