European Journal of Information Systems

, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp 409–427

Identifying and overcoming the challenges of implementing a project management office

Original Article

DOI: 10.1057/ejis.2009.29

Cite this article as:
Singh, R., Keil, M. & Kasi, V. Eur J Inf Syst (2009) 18: 409. doi:10.1057/ejis.2009.29

Abstract

With the ongoing challenge of successfully managing information technology (IT) projects, organizations are recognizing the need for greater project management discipline. For many organizations, this has meant ratcheting up project management skills, processes, and governance structures by implementing a project management office (PMO). While anecdotal evidence suggests that implementing a PMO can be quite difficult, few studies discuss the specific challenges involved, and how organizations can overcome them. To address this gap in existing knowledge, we conducted a Delphi study to (1) identify the challenges of implementing a PMO for managing IT projects, (2) rank these challenges in order of importance, (3) discover ways in which some organizations have overcome the top-ranked challenges, and (4) understand the role of PMO structure, metrics, and tools in the implementation of a PMO.

We identified 34 unique challenges to implementing a PMO and refined this list to 13 challenges that our Delphi panelists considered most important. The top-three challenges were (1) rigid corporate culture and failure to manage organizational resistance to change, (2) lack of experienced project managers (PMs) and PMO leadership, and (3) lack of appropriate change management strategy. Through follow-up interviews with selected panelists, we identified a series of actions that can be taken to overcome these challenges including having a strong PMO champion, starting small and demonstrating the value of the PMO, obtaining support from opinion leaders, hiring an experienced program manager who understands the organization, bringing the most talented PMs into the PMO implementation team, adopting a flexible change management strategy, and standardizing processes prior to PMO implementation. The interviews were also used to better understand the role of PMO structure, metrics, and tools. In terms of PMO structure, we found that ‘light’ PMOs were more likely to be implemented successfully. Most organizations eschew formal metrics, instead relying on subjective indicators of PMO success. Lastly, it appears that PMO tools are difficult to implement unless a project management culture has been established.

Keywords

project management office PMO project management implementing PMO 

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Process Innovation, J. Mack Robinson College of Business, Georgia State UniversityAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Computer Information SystemsJ. Mack Robinson College of Business, Georgia State UniversityAtlantaUSA
  3. 3.Georgia-Pacific LLCAtlantaUSA

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