Case Study: Advanced PMO Setup

MIGSO-PCUBED was brought in to help a Global Automotive Manufacturer set up a Program Management Office supporting enhanced consistency, transparency and predictability for their feature development teams as they drove a critical new feature to market.

The Background

MIGSO-PCUBED, a long time partner for the client providing project management consulting and PMO delivery services had not worked with this team before.

Our client possessed a strong understanding of Project Management and its associated benefits, and was looking to bring that skill set to their feature development teams. The goal of the client initially was not to set up a PMO. They were simply looking for Project Management support as they brought innovative new features to market in this highly competitive and fast moving environment.  Their real goal – bringing a critical new feature to market in record time.

Read also our automotive industry article: Driving Performance with Automotive Project Management Services

The Solution

The MIGSO-PCUBED team quickly ramped up to bring in key concepts in Project Management to support the client.  There were several challenges initially facing the project, including visibility into status, understanding of roles and responsibilities amongst the stakeholders, the ability to forecast and prioritize work, and understanding of key processes required for use by the team.

In addition, there were several Project Managers working independently across the multiple work streams, who each could benefit from being more integrated around core processes and tools.  The easiest way to do that was to set up a PMO.

Establishing Vision and Roadmap

One of the first steps for the PMO was to establish the vision and roadmap for the program.  Where are we going to go and how are we going to get there.  The roadmap defined what features and functions would be released over time.  

The roadmap not only laid out the software releases, but the enhancements in Project Management capability that would help address the challenges the project was facing. This also provided the team with a tool they could use to consistently communicate to others at the team level as well as supporting upward stakeholder management.

Establishing a PMO Framework for Speed

The second key step was to establish the framework for project governance and execute on key deliverables supporting driving speed to market. As the direction in this space changes quite frequently, having the ability to adapt to change with agility was paramount.  

Adjusting PMO delivery in a dynamic, fast paced environment requires some extra consideration. Resources across the team needed to move faster.  Yet, typical solutions proposed to project management challenges, resulted in situations where solutions deployed were too much. The team only needed a small subset of what was delivered. The key learning – deliver small and deliver fast.

The key learning - deliver small and deliver fast.

Delivering Small, Delivering Fast

Delivering small, the PMO adapted their approach. Some of the teams had been working already with JIRA, so were familiar with the tool. The PMO integrated the Agile based tool, JIRA, with additional tools like Rally and Excel.  They also integrated in more traditional project management practices to form a PMO framework to provide for better management of subsequent feature development.

Delivering fast, the PMO stood up a new project plan, within the streamlined toolset and rolled it out to the organization within a matter of weeks. Feature development teams could now see all their tasks, highlighted in a Kanban board.  The tool also allowed for the transfer of work to team members that had more capacity, stopping over allocation.

With the framework for effective PM in place, the role of the PMO moved to fundamental blocking and tackling.  What is needed to keep the program on track?  The team implemented traditional daily stand up meetings to identify blockages and discuss what help was needed.   They also established a weekly meeting cadence providing direct interaction with the client sponsor for status updates and report outs.

Photo by Luke Chesser on Unsplash
Photo by Luke Chesser on Unsplash

Finally, during this time frame, the team also transitioned to a virtual team almost overnight.  It was a successful, nearly seamless transition in part due to the fact that the team had always leveraged technology for improved collaboration.  Webex Teams allowed for instant messaging to the group and Webex meetings, with their webcams on, allowed the team to save a workshop that was originally planned for onsite to proceed ahead while fully remote.

The Benefits

While there were several challenges facing the project upfront, by setting up a PMO, the team was able to make significant progress.  The client benefited from improved visibility into status, the ability to forecast and prioritize work, and more efficient processes and tools for delivery.

The key benefits cited by the program were enhanced consistency, transparency and predictability.  The team attributes that success to 3 key factors: a client stakeholder who supports them, having PMs with a wealth of project management experience under their belt, and having team members who are used to moving quickly.  Okay we have a couple of hours – what can we get accomplished next?

Their next challenge? Integrating timing across impacted follow on programs and features in development. Now how to do that while delivering small and delivering fast.

This article was written by Rich Weller. Senior Principal Consultant and Josie Auger, Principal Consultant

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