PMO 101 – Use the PMO to Consolidate Project Status

One service that is typically associated with a PMO is providing roll-up reporting on the status of all the projects being executed within the organization. On the surface, this might seem like a trivial exercise. However, it can be quite time-consuming.

First, the PMO must work with the management stakeholders to define what is in the consolidated status report. Some organizations like to keep each project to one line, with some type of overall status indicator such as green (okay), yellow (caution) or red (trouble). If the reader wants more information, he can follow-up with the project manager. Other organizations like to see a full status report on each project. If there are questions or concerns, the status report may contain the answers that the reader is looking for, so that he does not have to follow up further with the project manager.

Problems Gathering the Status

The PMO needs to collect status information on each project, consolidate it and report it. However, like all activities that rely on people, this can be easier said than done. Your PMO will probably encounter the following challenges.

Timeliness. First, chances are that all of the project managers will not send you the required status information within the timeframe you need it.

Accuracy. In many cases, the information will not be accurate. For instance, the project manager may make his project appear to be on schedule, even though not all scheduled activities are completed. The rationale is that the team will make up the activities in the next reporting period.

Completeness. In many cases, the information on the report is accurate, and it may also be timely. However, you may find that it is not complete. For instance, the information provided may be very brief and does not provide a real sense for the status of the project.

Overcoming the Status Reporting Problems

Of course, these problems need to be overcome. The PMO can address these types of chronic problems through activities such as the following:

Explain who is requesting the information and what it will be used for. This is a key aspect of consolidated reporting. People do not like to spend the time to provide information if they don't feel it will be used. If they understand who is requesting the information, it might become a higher priority for them.

Be clear on the information you need and use what you are requesting. Make sure that you do not ask for status information that you don't need for consolidated reporting.

Clearly communicate when the Status Reports are due. The PMO will have difficulty gathering status information from some percentage of project teams. Make sure that you don't give anyone the excuse that they did not know when it was due.

Follow up with project managers on items that need further explanation and clarity. If you receive status information that does not contain the content or format you need, make sure you follow up with the project manager. This follow-up is designed to make sure that the project managers know what you need differently, with the hope that you won't have to continue to follow up with them.

If you find that the PMO is spending too much time running around for the information every month, you are going to have to go back to the sponsor for help. This is where you need backing on the process governance. Senior managers need to be held accountable if project managers in their organization cannot get the status reports in correctly and on time.

Summary

The PMO is in the unique organizational position of being able to view all of the projects going on in the organization. Therefore, the PMO is the logical place to collect common project status information for consolidated reporting. This work can be easy if all the projects report status as requested. However, this is rarely the case, which can make this valuable service one of the time-consuming and least liked services the PMO performs.
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This post provided courtesy of Method123, Inc. templates for Project Management.