The Facilitating PMO

How to Implement Project Success Across the Organization

 

SECOND EDITION

By Susan Hostetter and John Walsh

U.S. Census Bureau

Washington, DC, USA

 


 

Executive Summary

This paper explores the Project Management Office’s (PMO) role of facilitating project success within an organization. This paper will cover challenges a PMO has to overcome to effectively facilitate project success such as: staying informed of project progress; developing and documenting effective project management processes; developing effective tools and communicating with stakeholders.

This paper will cover the tools that the Demographic Statistical Methods Division PMO has developed to facilitate project success in the division. These tools include: deliverable based schedules and timesheets, cost estimation processes, the project management best practice program and project status reports for stakeholder communication.

Additionally, this paper will cover the benefits of facilitating project success. These benefits will include: supporting many projects at once; maintaining standards for project management practices across the organization; relieving subject matter experts of project management tasks and improving project reporting and stakeholder communication across the organization.

Introduction        

The Project Management Institute defines the Project Management Office (PMO) as “a strategic driver for organizational excellence, which seeks to enhance the practices of execution management, organizational governance, and strategic change leadership.” The term “driver” implies aggressive force that is sometimes required but, for the day-to-day operations, the PMO has a greater role as a facilitator for the project manager. Merriam Webster defines facilitation as “to make easier: help bring about” and it is in this role of the supporter and helper where the PMO can affect project success across the organization.  Stated simply, the PMO can affect project success by the support processes and tools it creates and implements for its project managers.

The PMO in the Demographic Statistical Methods Division (DSMD) at the U.S. Census Bureau has been working to understand the challenges faced by its project managers. The PMO found that the project managers struggled to stay informed of project status due to poor access to project data, functioned from word of mouth instructions for important processes, spent a lot of their time developing and updating status reports, needed guidance on how to integrate schedules and timesheet reporting, struggled with the many details of creating accurate cost estimates and lacked tools for communicating project information to stakeholders. To better support its project managers and facilitate their success, the PMO evaluated their work environment and developed products to help project managers overcome their work challenges. The sections below provide details into the facilitative tools developed by the DSMD PMO to support their project managers.

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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 13th Annual UT Dallas Project Management Symposium in May 2019.  It is republished here with the permission of the authors and conference organizers.

How to cite this paper: Hostetter, S. and Walsh, J. (2019). The Facilitating PMO: How to Implement Project Success Across the Organization; presented at the 13th Annual UT Dallas Project Management Symposium, Richardson, Texas, USA in May 2019; published in the PM World Journal, Vol. VIII, Issue VI, July.  Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/pmwj83-Jul2019-Hostetter-Walsh-The-Facilitating-PMO.pdf

 


 

About the Authors


Susan Hostetter

U.S. Census Bureau
Texas and Washington, DC, USA

 

 

Susan Hostetter, PMP, is a Project Manager at the U.S. Census Bureau in Washington, DC, USA. As a data analyst and project management professional, she has been instrumental in standing up and improving PMO processes for risk management, project management, portfolio management, schedule management, cost management, performance management and strategic planning. Her papers have been published in the PM World Journal and she has presented project management topics at PMI chapter events and at the University of Maryland’s and University of Texas at Dallas’ PM Symposiums. She has a Master’s Certificate in Project Management from George Washington University, a Master’s Degree in Management with Project Management emphasis from University of Maryland’s University College and a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, with a minor in Economics, from Mary Baldwin College. Susan can be contacted at susan.lynn.hostetter@census.gov

 


John Walsh

U.S. Census Bureau
Washington, DC, USA

 

 

John Walsh, PMP, is Chief of the Management Operations Office in the Demographic Statistical Methods Division (DSMD) at the U.S. Census Bureau in Washington, DC, USA. As a project management professional over the last 12 years, he has been instrumental in implementing project management processes for large-scale programs across the Census Bureau, including the Economic Census, as well as the Current Demographic and Current Economic survey programs.  He received an undergraduate degree in Economics from the University of Maryland at College Park.  John can be contacted at john.c.walsh@census.gov