The Ultimate Guide to IT PMOs

Companies with large IT departments and projects have complex needs that require advanced solutions. IT project management offices, also known as IT PMOs,  offer oversight, guidance, and tools that will make your organization more productive and make it easier to scale. 

But what exactly is an IT PMO? What are the core IT PMO objectives and how can your IT department adopt best practices? Here’s everything you need to know to get started. 

What is an IT PMO?

An IT PMO is a project management system that delivers high-quality results in the most efficient ways possible. Any project that involves information technology, no matter the size or urgency, will fall under the responsibility of an IT PMO

All PMOs involve a combination of goal setting, strategy, and organization. These qualities are essential when it comes to IT because of this department’s unique needs. Issues such as standardization and reducing task repetition across departments are all resolved when teams use an IT PMO. 

Businesses may opt to have an overall organization PMO and an IT PMO. This makes it easier to drill down on the specific technical aspects of IT that only experts fully understand. An IT PMO has experience working with a wide range of IT-specific tasks. But, more importantly, they have enough of an understanding about the challenges, potential obstacles, and resources required to complete nearly any given IT project. They can also keep up with IT project management trends while maintaining established initiatives. 

This leads to more accurate forecasting and smarter planning. And when trial and error isn’t an option (which is the case for most businesses), combining the powers of a business PMO with an IT PMO can ensure alignment between overall business goals and specific IT project needs. 

The most common uses for an IT PMO include updating tools and software. It’s also used for scaling workloads without increasing team sizes. And when new regulations or compliance issues arise, IT PMOs can strategically slip these tasks among ongoing or long-term projects without significant disruption to delivery timelines. 

What are the objectives of an IT PMO?

The main objectives of an IT PMO include: 

  • 1. Policy creation
    Policy creation for project management means creating big-picture guidelines for all IT projects. These guidelines dictate expectations for what is accomplished and how it should be executed. There may be separate policies for more complex or sensitive tasks, which is another reason why having a dedicated IT project management team is so beneficial. 
  • 2. Team training
    New team members and third-party contractors may need help developing the skills needed to complete their assignments. An IT PMO will not only schedule and set up team training, but they may also provide one-on-one consulting wherever needed. 
  • 3. Resource allocation and distribution
    IT PMOs ensure that each project has exactly what it needs while maintaining a balance of resources across all other active projects. If there are competing needs, it’s the IT PMO’s job to prioritize them. And when unexpected problems arise, the IT PMO will be responsible for shifting resources in order to keep everything on track. 
  • 4. Process development
    A large part of why it’s important to hire experienced IT professionals to command your IT PMO is because they’ll largely be responsible for outlining workflows. These processes will range from small tasks, such as submitting deliverable approvals, to large ones, such as onsite hardware installations. 
  • 5. Standardization
    To keep teams aligned with clients, legal, and HR, there will need to be some standardization in place. Not only will the IT PMO find a way to consolidate these various sources of input into one cohesive list of practices, but they’ll also be in charge of monitoring and adjusting as needed. 
  • 6. Adherence to protocol
    Whether it’s safety standards or intellectual property development, IT PMOs ensure adherence to protocol by monitoring performance across all active department projects. This also means providing solutions to possible breaches before they happen. 
  • 7. Improved collaboration and communication
    In general, an IT PMO is the head of all projects, which means they can oversee important day-to-day team needs. Improved collaboration comes from having strong guidance and a clear path forward. What’s more, improved communication relies on having a system in place that makes sense with how IT operates. An IT PMO will provide both. 
  • 8. Detailed reporting and data insight 
    One of the most important functions of an IT PMO is to continuously improve their department. That can mean everything from improving how they work to the products they produce. 

Would an IT PMO benefit your company?

If your company has ever had issues with project delivery, decision-making, or resource management, an IT PMO would be beneficial. 

Without an IT PMO, projects may not be delivered on time or on budget. Or, if they do meet those initial benchmarks, quality might be wavering from project to project. An IT PMO uses the power of data insight and organization to predict the success of a project, given the other obstacles departments may already be facing. That includes certain task dependencies, employee workloads and scheduling, and roadblocks from one project that may domino into others. 

IT PMOs also help with decision-making. They have a clear understanding of what the business needs and what the IT department needs better than anyone else. They also have access to facts and figures that can help C-Suite executives better understand which goals are realistic. And as experienced IT consultants themselves, IT PMOs can provide advanced insight on reports that general PMOs might miss. 

In regards to resource management, an IT PMO is trained to work with what they have to achieve their goal. For example, this means working with the teams they have while limiting hiring, saving money long-term. This also means having a more accurate understanding of how long certain IT tasks realistically take and scheduling them accordingly. 

What is an IT PMO organizational structure?

An IT PMO organizational structure outlines the flow of communication and command within the department. It’s often depicted as a flow chart. There are various ways teams can organize their IT project management teams, but the most common ones often include the head of the organization at the top, followed by the PMO, with each department division underneath. 

Interdepartmental IT PMO organizational structure will often flow from IT directors to IT managers to IT project managers. An organization can choose between placing business PMOs and IT PMOs side by side or deferring to the IT PMO as head of their department while still under the larger organization’s PMO umbrella. 

What are IT PMO metrics?

IT PMO metrics are used to measure the success of an IT project. The information used is quantifiable and aligns with established goals. The metrics themselves may vary project to project. They also vary business to business depending on what information they have access to and what they’re striving to achieve.

In general, IT PMOs can count on using PMO metrics that cover three essential categories: strategy, process, and deliverables. IT PMO metrics should be defined both for the department as a whole and for each new project. 

The metrics are used for creating smarter goal benchmarks for improvement later on. They also gauge progress against past performance. IT PMO metrics, in particular, offer additional insight into how the department functions in comparison to other departments so that executives can be sure their relative success is on par with the rest of the organization’s standards. 

What are the IT PMO best practices you need to know?

  • 1. Focus on hiring talent that is highly skilled and collaborative. While the former has historically been the only top recruitment priority, studies and anecdotal evidence found in modern texts such as Brotopia by Emily Chang provide a strong case for myth-busting the ‘lone wolf’ ideal in IT. 
  • 2. Have a continuous growth mindset. Not only is an IT PMO responsible for daily operations and big-picture goals, but they are also responsible for implementing helpful changes along the way. These changes can be small or large, but they must all align with strategy, be monitored for effectiveness, and be adjusted as needed. 
  • 3. Educate other departments and executives on IT projects. Helping other decision-makers understand what your department does and how it affects the greater ecosystem of your organization can go a long way towards improved collaboration long-term. The key is to strike a balance between empowering your audience and talking down to them about the more technical aspects. 
  • 4. Be proactive at every level. Look ahead for ways to improve repeatable tasks. Forecast potential project delays or resource depletion before they come up. Anything the IT PMO can do now to mitigate risk and delays will pay off in dividends almost immediately. 
  • 5. Choose starting where you are over reinventing the wheel. Many IT departments have some level of project organization established even if they don’t call it that. It’s easier to adapt systems that are working well rather than force the entire team to take on entirely new habits. Perform a teamwide diagnostic before implementing new practices when switching over to IT PMO leadership. 

What should you expect from an IT PMO tool?

Simply put, you should expect an IT PMO tool to make your projects faster and easier. You can templatize past successful projects for new work. This will decrease the time spent planning recurring tasks and projects so teams can focus on higher ROI activity. You can also find ways to automate notifications such as task dependencies so that your team is always on top of what’s due next. 

An IT PMO tool can even automate administrative tasks and streamline team communication. Collaborators will chat directly within the tasks themselves so that everyone who participates can view the history and get caught up. You can also loop other voices in simply by using @ mentions. 

Additionally, your IT PMO tool will have visual graphs, charts, and task allocations. This makes information easier to understand at a glance. IT PMO tools such as Wrike also offer personal dashboards so that each team member can focus on information that’s most relevant to their role when logging on. 

Reporting and data analysis across all active projects is another key benefit of an IT PMO tool. You can quickly pull reference numbers in meetings, provide statistical backup for client calls, and make better, more informed decisions on the fly. 

How to set up and maintain your IT PMO with Wrike

Brands like Dish, Fitbit, and Solera use Wrike as their set up and maintain their IT PMO. Here’s how they do it: 

  1. Onboard and train users. The executive teams at Dish said that their expectations for adoption were exceeded thanks to the support they received from the Wrike team. 
  2. Establish your one source of truth. Wrike offers IT teams a space for organizing projects but it also offers advanced data reporting capabilities so teams can make better decisions. 
  3. Share timeline reports. Communicate with business PMO and key stakeholders using timeline reports that clearly and accurately set expectations for project deadlines. 
  4. Centralize project management. If you have projects being managed under a variety of different tools, Wrike can help consolidate all active and new assignments while also providing a clear view into interdependencies. 
  5. Try dynamic timelines. Fitbit used Wrike to plan, prioritize, and assign work without taking away necessary resources from other projects. Full transparency across all assignments means you’ll know how these changes will affect the IT department and the company at large. 
  6. Defend against burnout. Wrike gives users like Fitbit the ability to view and strategically use employee availability so that managers can assign tasks based on skills needed and their other active projects. 
  7. Optimize processes. Solera uses Wrike’s request forms, Calendar function, and project status reports so the entire global team can keep track of what’s going on at any given moment. 

Take advantage of Wrike’s helpful project management features to get your entire IT department aligned with your goals. Sign up for a free two-week trial and discover why world-renowned IT companies trust Wrike to manage and execute their projects. 

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