Addressing the issues of core mechanics of PMO operations

In addition to defining and maintaining project management standards, the PMO is the source of documentation, guidance and metrics for the project management practice across the business. This implies creating a streamlined approach to the way projects are governed and maintaining effective discipline across project activities. Project governance and project management discipline are therefore at the core of PMO operations.

The PMO has the expertise to devise standards and best practices, however, the biggest challenges arise in implementation. Upholding consistent project management practices is a challenging task, frequently disposed to nonconformity due to the “usual” causes: rules get too complicated to follow; steep learning curves; cultural resistance; weak endorsement of the introduced methodologies; external contracting staff unfamiliar with the process, etc... To succeed, implementation and maintenance of project practices has to be straightforward, simple to follow and easy to use.

Imagine having a productivity tool that “silently” instigates adherence to prescribed standards! Project managers and their teams will greatly benefit, while the PMO will significantly reduce operational stress and focus on adding value to the business instead of being absorbed in enforcing compliance.

Welcome to pm box - the project methodology software

Irrespective of its mode of operation, a typical PMO will:

  • Establish and standardise project management tools, practices and processes
  • Coach and mentor PMs and team members
  • Create and maintain a repository of document templates
  • Manage a repository of project records evolving into a central hub of knowledge
  • Reduce business costs and risks by centralising project services

pm box is designed to effectively enable the core mechanics of PMO operations and contains features that address the most common PMO challenges. Its purpose is to be a platform that helps you standardise your environment, apply project management best practices and improve team collaboration on projects.

What is inside?

  • PMO Administrative module
    to set up the methodology upon which projects will be run, govern and monitor the projects
  • Project Manager’s workbench module
    to guide the project manager through the due process
  • SharePoint collaborative site engine
    Automatically creates collaborative SharePoint project sites, including standard set of project tools, registers and document libraries, without any need for IT support
  • Project Management document templates
    Customisable, equipped with metadata and stored in SharePoint, documents created via pm box result in effective document repositories that support document automation and development of a useable Knowledge Base
  • The pm box engine
    Binds all elements together and works in complete unity with Microsoft SharePoint Online providing standardised and unified project environment.

Making your methodology happen: One size does not fit all.

When designing a methodology, we lean toward abstraction and tend to model in generic fashion, hoping it will somehow suit all our projects in all circumstances. If you’ve attempted this before, you know it is destined to fail in many ways. That’s exactly why PMBOK comes in form of a “guide” and states that it is a collection of best practices that need to be tailored to your needs.

pm box helps you tailor the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®) standard and build your own end-to-end project methodology via the following features:

  • Comes pre-packaged with the full PMBOK standard, plus three trimmed-down alternatives
    PMBOK is very comprehensive and seldom used in its entirety. For this reason, pm box comes pre-packaged with four (4) PMBOK “starting points” that can be used on projects straight out of the box, trimmed down (with fewer activities and correlations) or build up (with more), according to your needs.
  • Managing correlations and consequential flow between project activities
    As recommended in the PMBOK guide (or by the PMO), your project model will encapsulate the correlations and consequential actions between individual project activities at every stage of the project and advise the project manager what is the next “thing” that must be done.
  • Customising the activities of your methodology
    Every activity or correlation between activities in your methodology can be customised to suit your needs. For example, if your organisation requires performing an additional action after each change request you can easily create such workflow. You can even design your own methodology from scratch, without “cloning” PMBOK.
  • Associating a project activity with a Document Template, Link to another tool or Knowledge Base Information
    In addition to being presented with the next activity in the chain, there is also assistance with the execution. For example: If an activity is about creating a document – a new document is automatically created from the correct document template. If a SharePoint calendar or an Issue register is to be opened, the activity can automatically redirect to the correct SharePoint resource or, if the activity is of an Advisory/Information type, a knowledge base article with instructions is automatically presented.
  • Give project managers the discretion to fine-tune the process
    Project managers apply PMO’s prescribed methodology in practice and are therefore best suited to determine what works for a given project and what doesn’t. pm box allows project managers to “tweak” the rules on the fly by switching off certain correlations that are not applicable to the project and cause process overhead. This way, their project “cycles” through methodology activities chain, without excessive process “noise” and administrative burden. This is also a way for the PMs to cast their vote back to the PMO if a process needs to be changed.
  • Keeping the winning combinations
    pm box stores all customisations inside project “blueprints” (or “classes”) designed to address typical project scenarios. When launching a new project, PMO simply selects the most suitable model and all principles embedded inside the project blueprints are cloned into the new working project providing peace of mind the project is running within set guidelines. Now, when you have a new project which is “just like the one you did before”, spawning a new one tuned to the same methodology is just a click away.

Documentation standards – From templates and documents to knowledge bases

All documents generated via pm box are based on standardised document templates fully controlled by the PMO. Each document has an essential set of metadata associated enabling easy file classification and more relevant search results.

To maintain document consistency and address project documentation variations, pm box allows the PMO to manage all document templates from a central location. Consistent and well organised project documentation supported by metadata easily converts into valuable project records providing a solid foundation to evolve into a fully functional knowledge base. PMOs supported by an effective knowledge base have higher knowledge retention, improved risk assessment capability and overall planning of future projects.

Keeping the hand on the pulse - The dashboard views

pm box allows comprehensive project, programme and portfolio monitoring from central dashboard delivering:

  • Viewing project status indicators and latest remarks by the project manager
  • Viewing summaries and charts of project issue, risk and change registers
  • Instant navigation to SharePoint project sites to access more information

Having project information readily available provides good project transparency and enables early detection of potential problems.

Effective project collaboration with SharePoint online

pm box enables effective team collaboration by operating in unity with Microsoft® SharePoint© Online, fully automating the entire site creation process for new projects, without any intervention from IT. Compared to delivering SharePoint sites in a conventional way, pm box automated site creation saves large amounts of time and resources and speeds up project set ups significantly.

All pm box SharePoint sites are standardised and come pre-packaged with a set of tools for the project teams (such as document libraries, calendars, scheduling tool, issue tracker, project registers, etc...).  Site structure and layout are carefully planned and designed to provide clean, easy to use interface for each member of the project team, improving team communication and encouraging more effective collaboration.

Well-structured and organised sites eliminate confusion about project documentation and provide a predictable collaborative environment integrating well with existing Microsoft Office products, requiring little or no additional training to be used effectively.

Taking into consideration that processes do change, pm box strikes the right balance between customisation and consistency enabling PMOs to quickly adapt to changes without diverging from the standards. pm box turns due process into a PM productivity tool and makes adoption of best practices very easy, requiring no additional effort and eliminating the resistance to following a methodology.