Establishing a Project Management Office (PMO) Part 2 – The Business Objectives

If you have been following this blog you will recognize a common theme in almost everything you want to do: know your outcomes (aka “Business Objectives”). Before establishing a PMO, you need to understand the PMO Sponsor’s vision of what problems they are trying to solve and/or what opportunities they wish to exploit.

Here are some possible problems your business may face that can be mitigated by having a PMO. You may have one or more of these to solve:

  • We aren’t maximizing our Return On Investment (ROI) from our portfolio of projects.
  • Our project mix is not aligned with our long and short term business goals
  • We don’t have control on our project request process
  • We have key resources frequently overloaded causing project bottlenecks and delays
  • Our projects are usually late
  • Our projects are usually over budget
  • We under-deliver on the agreed upon scope
  • Our projects often have the scope expanded without knowledge or approval
  • Our project quality is frequently lacking
  • We take on too much risk
  • We don’t take on enough risk

Depending on the problems you wish to solve, here is just a sample of the measurable business outcomes you can obtain my investing in a PMO:

  • Regular financial analysis reviews showing the ROI on the current active project portfolio and the ROI on alternative combinations of projects
  • No resource bottlenecks; Resources obtained and deployed in the most effective manner
  • Deliver projects on or under the approved schedule and budget
  • Deliver on the approved scope
  • Control how much risk we are taking on (possibly by regular review of the risk/reward matrix of the current portfolio of projects)

In the next post I will present some possible Project Objectives for the establishment of a PMO.

Establishing a Project Management Office (PMO) Part 1 – Overview

If your organization is embarking on creating a PMO, congratulations! You will typically find one in the best run companies. If you are not sure how to go about it, I will offer some guidance and suggestions in the upcoming series of posts.

Creating a PMO is a goal. Presumably, you want to have it done by a target date. The combination of a goal and a target date means you have a project! You should treat the establishment of a PMO as a project and use formal project management techniques to do so.

Here are the topics I will address in this series:

  • Part 2 – The Business Objectives
  • Part 3 – The Project Objectives
  • Part 4 – The Stakeholders
  • Part 5 – The Scope
  • Part 6 – The Timeline and the Budget
  • Part 7 – Risks, Constraints, Dependencies
  • Part 8 – Summary

Studying for the PMP Exam – Part 2 of 2

In part 1 of this 2 part series, I gave you some good reasons why you should get your Project Management Professional (PMP) certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI). In this part, I will share the methods I used to prepare for the exam.

There are many excellent exam prep courses available but they are usually very expensive (over $1,000) and in my opinion are not necessary. If you are comfortable with self-study, you can prepare for this exam for a lot less money.

Here is what I did:

  • Purchased a self-study book that had excellent reviews
  • Took as many free practice exams as possible

The book I used and the one I recommend is “The PMP Exam: How to Pass on Your First Try” by Andy Crowe. The author does an excellent job leading you through everything you need to know, with practice exams at the end of each chapter. The most important thing this book does, though, is change the way you think about project management to be in alignment with how the PMI wants you to think about project management. If you go into the exam trying to pass just based on your project management experience, in the words of Andy Crowe, “The exam will chew you up and spit you out.”

Here is a link to the book on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/PMP-Exam-Pass-First-Fifth/dp/098276085X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1454940927&sr=1-1&keywords=how+to+pass+the+pmp+on+the+first+try

I personally went through the book three times to make sure I thoroughly understood the material. You will have to decide for yourself how many times you will need.

The other thing you need to do is practice! There are many free PMP practice exams available on the internet. Just use Google to find them. A general principle in learning anything is to “try, fail, correct, try again”. This is the best way to master any skill or subject. The practice exams will reveal your areas of weakness, where you need to focus your study time. Take as many of these as your schedule allows. I even found one that had a full 200 question, four hour timed exam. That was a very valuable exercise. The practice tests in the Crowe book tend to be a bit easier than the real exam so you need to seek out difficult practice questions.

Be prepared to put in many hours preparing for the exam. It is not a slam dunk and you need to be well prepared. I studied over the course of six weeks, about 1-2 hours per day. If you fail the exam there are no refunds and you will have to pay to take it again so it is in your best interests to pass on the first attempt.

Good luck to all of you preparing to take the exam!