Manage a Minimum-Viable PMO

Provide project managers with processes that they have the time to follow.


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Your Challenge

  • Organizations want reliable project reporting and clear, consistent project management standards, but many are unwilling or unable to allocate time for it.
  • Many IT project managers are given project management responsibilities in addition to other full-time roles – without any formal allocation of time, authority, or training.
  • Most IT project managers and stakeholders actually want clear and consistent standards but resist tools and procedures they believe are too time consuming and inflexible.
  • Standard project management procedures must be “light” enough for project managers to adapt to a wide range of projects without increasing the total time required to manage projects successfully.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • Most IT project management advice is focused on the largest 10-20% of projects – projects with large enough budgets to allocate time to project management. This leaves most IT projects (and most people who manage IT projects) in limbo between high-risk ad hoc management and high-cost project management best practices.
  • Project management success doesn’t equate to project success. While formal methodologies are a key ingredient in the success of large, complex projects, most IT projects do not require the same degree of rigorous record-keeping and planning.
  • Consistent, timely, and accurate reporting is the “linchpin” in any sustainable project and portfolio management practice.

Impact and Result

  • Maintain timely and accurate project portfolio reporting with right-sized tools and processes.
  • Establish clear and consistent project management standards that make better use of time already spent managing projects.
  • Enable project managers to manage their projects more successfully with a set of flexible and lightweight tools and templates.


  • Gary Kern, CIO, Mutual Bank
  • Jim Tom, CIO, Public Health Ontario 
  • Bob Horton, Senior Project Manager, Office of the CIO, Government of the Northwest Territories 
  • Curtis Naphan, PMO Manager, Office of the CIO, Government of the Northwest Territories
  • Dave Forest, Director of IT, The Mackie Group 
  • Stephane Viau, Director, Business Solutions and Innovation, Canadian Red Cross 
  • Sarah Woods, HR Systems Project Manager & Learning Facilitator, Borough of Poole 
  • Chris Burford, Project Manager, Project Solutions Group, 1199SEIU Benefit and Pension Funds

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Get to Action

  1. Assess the value of a minimum-viable PMO strategy

    Perform a measured value assessment for building and managing a minimum-viable PMO.

  2. Perform a project and portfolio needs assessment

    Focus on the minimum required to maintain accuracy of portfolio reporting and effectiveness in managing projects.

  3. Establish standards for realistic, accurate, and consistent portfolio reporting

    Emphasize reporting high-level project status as a way to identify and address issues to achieve the best results with the least effort.

  4. Create a standard, right-sized project management toolkit

    Free PMs to focus on actually managing the project while still delivering accurate portfolio metrics.

  5. Train PMs for zero allocation

    Ensure project manager compliance with the portfolio reporting process by incorporating activities that create value.

  6. Perform a post-implementation assessment

    Evaluate success and identify opportunities for further improvement.

Guided Implementation icon Guided Implementation

This guided implementation is a six call advisory process.

    Guided Implementation #1 - Assess Needs

  • Call #1: Scoping call

  • Call #2: Discuss results of Minimum-Viable Needs Assessment and PM time allocations

  • Guided Implementation #2 - Develop a Strategy

  • Call #1: Determine scope and next steps to devising your zero allocation strategy

  • Call #2: Develop SOP to establish standards for portfolio reporting

  • Guided Implementation #3 - Execute Strategy

  • Call #1: Customize the Zero-Allocation Project Management Workbook to suit the needs of your PMs

  • Call #2: Evaluate performance since implementation and review results of Quarterly Assessment; identify areas for further optimization

Onsite Workshop

Module 1: Preparation

The Purpose

  • Define goals and success criteria.
  • Finalize agenda.
  • Gather information: update project and resource lists (Info-Tech recommends using the Project Portfolio Workbook).

Key Benefits Achieved

  • More efficiently organized and executed workshop.
  • Able to better customize and tailor content to your specific needs.

Activities: Outputs:
1.1 Discuss specific pain points with regards to project manager allocations
  • Understanding of where efforts must be focused in workshop
1.2 Review project lists, tools and templates, and other documents
  • Assessment of what existing tools and templates may need to be included in zero-allocation workbook
1.3 Map existing strategies to Info-Tech’s framework
  • Revisions that need to be made based on existing strategies

Module 2: Make the Case and Assess Needs

The Purpose

  • Assess current state (including review of project and resource lists).
  • Discuss and analyze SWOT around project and portfolio management.
  • Define target state.
  • Define standards / SOP / processes for project and portfolio management.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Gain perspective on how well your processes match up with the amount of time your project managers have for their PM duties.
  • Determine the value of the time and effort that your project teams are investing in project management activities.
  • Begin to define resource optimized processes for zero-allocation project managers.
  • Ensure consistent implementation of processes across your portfolio.
  • Establish project discipline and best practices that are grounded in actual project capacity.

Activities: Outputs:
2.1 Perform and/or analyze Minimum-Viable PMO Needs Assessment
  • Current state analysis based on Minimum-Viable PMO Needs Assessment
2.2 SWOT analysis
  • Overview of current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
2.3 Identify target allocations for project management activities
  • Target state analysis based on Minimum-Viable PMO Needs Assessment
2.4 Begin to define resource optimized processes for zero-allocation project managers
  • A refined Minimum-Viable Project and Portfolio Management SOP

Module 3: Establish Strategy

The Purpose

  • Select and customize project and portfolio management toolkit.
  • Implement (test/pilot) toolkit and processes.
  • Customize project manager training plan.
  • Evaluate and refine toolkit and processes as needed.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Ensure consistent implementation of processes across your portfolio.
  • Establish project discipline and best practices that are grounded in actual project capacity.
  • A customized training session that will suit the needs of your project managers.

Activities: Outputs:
3.1 Customize the Zero-Allocation Toolkit to accommodate the needs of your projects
  • Customized Zero-Allocation Project Management Workbook
3.2 Test toolkit on projects currently underway
  • A tested and standardized copy of the workbook
3.3 Tweak project manager training to suit the needs of your team
  • A customized training session for your project managers (to take place on Day 4 of Info-Tech’s workshop)

Module 4: Train Your Zero-Allocation Project Managers

The Purpose

  • Communicate project and portfolio management SOP to Project Managers.
  • Deliver project manager training: standards for portfolio reporting and toolkit.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Equip project managers to improve their level of discipline and documentation without spending more time in record keeping and task management.
  • Execute a successful training session that clearly and succinctly communicates your minimal and resource-optimized processes.

Activities: Outputs:
4.1 Project Manager Training, including communication of the processes and standard templates and reports that will be adopted by all project managers
  • Educated and disciplined project managers, aware of the required processes for portfolio reporting

Module 5: Assess Strategy and Next Steps

The Purpose

  • Debrief from the training session.
  • Plan for ongoing evaluation and improvement.
  • Evaluate and refine toolkit and processes if needed.
  • Answer any remaining questions.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Assess portfolio and project manager performance in light of the strategy implemented.
  • Understanding of how to keep living documents like the workbook and SOP up to date.
  • Clearly defined next steps.

Activities: Outputs:
5.1 Review the customized tools and templates
  • Finalized workbook and processes
5.2 Send relevant documentation to relevant stakeholders
  • Satisfied and informed stakeholders
5.3 Schedule review call
  • Scheduled review call
5.4 Schedule follow-up call with analysts to discuss progress in six months
  • Scheduled follow-up call

Workshop Icon Book Your Workshop

Onsite Workshops offer an easy way to accelerate your project. If you are unable to do the project yourself, and a Guided Implementation isn’t enough, we offer low-cost onsite delivery of our Project Workshops. We take you through every phase of your project and ensure that you have a road map in place to complete your project successfully.

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Search Code: 75651
Published: August 7, 2014
Last Revised: January 22, 2015

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