In March, Gartner analysts Mbula Schoen and Michael Hanford outlined their recommendations for new PMOs in a detailed report, The PMO Leader’s First 100 Days.
Schoen and Hanford defined project management office, or PMO, as a function designed to facilitate and improve the management of projects through the application and use of PPM disciplines, such as project management and program management. The PMO also participates in business and IT governance activities by providing some degree of execution, analysis, and visibility into proposed and existing initiatives.
New PMO leaders must balance the need to build relationships, meet expectations, and gain acceptance and buy-in. The analysts suggested that they view target outcomes in terms of five phases that often overlap: Prepare, Assess, Plan, Act, and Measure.
Prepare Phase (Days −10 to 15)
As with any new strategic role, it helps to optimize your chances for success before you “officially” begin. “Prior to starting work, you must work with your (almost) new boss and major stakeholders to be sure you're all on the same page regarding expectations and a shared view of what success is and what it will be,” said Schoen and Hanford. “Check, at a minimum, that the following are in place as you go forward.”
Assess Phase (Days 0 to 30)
The Assess Phase is all about listening, learning, and taking small steps. “You don't yet know where the cultural and political land mines reside,” said Schoen and Hanford. “Use this time to map out the environmental and governance landscape, PPM maturity, past PMO experiences, and the robustness of current program, project, and portfolio management (initiatives).” Target outcomes for this phase are as follows:
Plan Phase (Days 15 to 45)
This phase can be fraught with danger, because too much detailed planning can lead to paralysis and inaction. "PMOs succeed (or fail) based upon the perceptions of others and rapidly establishing credibility,” said Schoen and Hanford. “Make any plans you come up with lightweight and simple. Be ruthless in responding to events by changing your plans.” By Day 45, you should have accomplished:
Check out Gordon Tredgold's FAST principles to make sure you're focused on the right things and have the tools to succeed.
Act Phase (Days 30 to 80)
The Act phase overlaps the Plan phase, but requires focusing tightly on critical actions that must be taken in your first 100 days. Your ability to shepherd these initial actions through to a successful conclusion has permanent implications for the future of the PMO. According to Schoen and Hanford, your target outcomes should be:
Measure Phase (Days 45 to 100)
This phase, especially the last month of your first 100 days, cements a solid foundation for your PMO. Use your last month of the first 100 days to finalize a solid foundation for the PMO to move forward, but don’t obsess too much over numbers. “The PMO head's first 100 days success has lots to do with people, their perceptions, some degree of attitude adjustment, and little to do with things,” said Schoen and Hanford. Keeping that in mind, your target outcomes for this phase are:
If you’re a new PMO leader, be sure to check out Gartner’s full report. It is chock full of additional advice, recommended actions, and resources for getting started on the right foot.