Building an Award-Winning,


Metrics Based Program Management Office



By Nana P. Kwame

Maryland, USA


A unique approach to program and portfolio management that relies heavily on data and metrics to drive program outcomes led to DC Water’s IT PMO wining several excellence awards, including the prestigious Project Management Institute PMO of the year award. While the PMO tracks over 70 different metrics for the many areas the PMO is responsible for, this paper focuses on how the PMO utilized and applied metrics to the demand, portfolio, estimation, and risk management disciplines to predict program outcomes and drive results. We discuss both the key metrics tracked in each discipline and how we apply probability density functions of beta and binomial distributions to better forecast and predict the outcomes.


Program Management Offices have become essential to organization’s business transformation efforts (Dai & Wells, 2003) and are central to ensuring that the work an organization undertakes is aligned to its strategy (Andersen, Henriksen, & Aarseth, 2007). As organizations take on more transformation initiatives, they have come to rely heavily on PMOs to ensure the “right” initiatives are being executed the “right” way so that the “right” business outcomes are realized to make the transformations successful (Bible & Bivens, 2011) .

A key aspect of DC Water IT PMO’s approach to ensure these initiatives are successful is to incorporate predictive metrics in each of core process in the initiative lifecycle, from when a request for a new initiative is made and evaluated (demand management), to how its prioritized and funded (portfolio management), to how it is executed (program, estimate, risk, issue, quality, stakeholder management etc.) and, how program outcomes are measured (benefits realization). This paper will focus on the metrics, why they were chosen, how they were applied and how they help drive program outcomes.

Demand Management

The demand management process kicks off when anyone in the company creates a request (aka “opportunity” in DC Water lingo) for some sort of product, service, or assistance. The opportunity is then reviewed by IT managers to ensure that the request is not out of the norm. Once approved, a business analyst from the PMO is paired with the requestor to develop a preliminary feasibility analysis that documents the business need/problem statement, viable solutions, estimated costs, and timelines at a high level to determine if the opportunity is worth pursuing. If promising and exceeds a predetermined threshold, then the business analyst continues to work with the requestor to develop a detailed business case that determines whether the opportunity helps move DC Water’s strategic plan forward by mapping its business objectives to the company’s strategic objectives and ensuring a return based on a 4.3% hurdle rate over a 5-year horizon. DC Water requires all business cases have objective measures that serve as a benchmark for benefits realization. The Enterprise Steering Committee (ESC)[1] reviews and approves both the preliminary feasibility and business case. Once the business case is approved, the opportunity becomes an official program or project.


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Editor’s note: Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English.  Original publication acknowledged; authors retain copyright.  This paper was originally presented at the University of Maryland Virtual Project Management Symposium in April 2021.  It is republished here with the permission of the author and conference organizers.

How to cite this paper: Kwame, N.P. (2020). Building an Award-Winning, Metrics Based Program Management Office; presented at the University of Maryland 2021 Virtual Project Management Symposium, College Park, Maryland, USA in April 2021; republished in the PM World Journal, Vol. IX, Issue VI, June. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/pmwj106-Jun2021-Kwame-building-award-winning-metrics-based-pmo.pdf

About the Author

Nana P. Kwame

Maryland, USA


Nana Kwame is Senior Manager of the Digital & Technology Project Management Office (PMO) at Abt Associates in Rockville, Maryland, USA.  He is former Director of the DC Water Information Technology Program Management Office in Washington, DC where he was responsible for transforming DC Water’s IT PPM function from an ad-hoc, individual effort-based operation into an agile, team-oriented organization working to deliver measurable benefits to the company. This PMO deployed several award winning and innovative projects that significantly improved DC Water’s bottom line. The DC Water PMO won the Project Management Institute’s prestigious PMO of the year award for 2020.

In his previous role with Acentia, he served as a Senior Project Manager responsible for managing day-today operations and enhancement requests for the US Department of Labor’s e-Procurement system. Kwame ensured that the system was smoothly retired once the replacement system was stood up and in full use.

Before joining Acentia in 2012, Kwame served as a Senior Manager for the US Department of Labor’s Office of Public Affairs where he helped setup the IT PMO and successfully managed several IT projects for the Department.

Kwame is a frequent speaker and presenter at project and portfolio management events where he focuses on how PMOs can deliver value to organizations by focusing on processes (and key metrics) that help organizations realize project and portfolio benefits as part of the strategic planning process.

Kwame holds a master’s degree in project management from George Washington University, and a bachelor’s degree in information systems management from Strayer University in the United States. He can be contacted at kwame.nana@gmail.com.

[1] The ESC is comprised of the senior executives who evaluate feasibilities and business cases and approve funding for opportunities. They also set the annual funding thresholds for the PMO program portfolio.