What is a Greenfield PMO and how do we build one?

According to Wikipedia ‘In many disciplines a greenfield project is one that lacks constraints imposed by prior work. The analogy is to that of construction on greenfield land where there is no need to work within the constraints of existing buildings or infrastructure’.

In the corporate environment when a business is looking to implement a PMO where there is no function similar in existence, its considered ‘Greenfield’. Greenfield because there is little to no practices in place presently, often no systems existing and no EPM or PPM tools in place already. A greenfield PMO brings with it many risks because of the lack of infrastructure, customers and tools etc.

Before we build anything, we need to define and create the overall high level strategy. This strategy should include information that allows for the effective planning, monitoring and delivery of the program and projects within the PMO ongoing long after the PMO has been established.

Once you’ve defined the high level strategy, proceed to develop and implement the terms of reference for the PMO. This is then communicated to stakeholders.

At the beginning, we need to review and consider the following:

  • Methodology – Depending on the industry, some companies and/or large programs utilising external vendors to support delivery will need to be aware that these consultancies will often work to their own methodology
  • Recruitment – Ramp up and availability of resources to support feasibility phase of Greenfield PMO set up
  • Delivery and Management – Take into consideration that delivery and management teams need to have some autonomy
  • Scoping – Define the requirements (in agreement with stakeholders) of the Greenfield PMO that you plan to establish, remembering every company’s requirement for the PMO will vary

Then look at replicating the dynamics of a PMO in a large successful corporate organisation, but making it applicable to the wider program, setting up a structure that can support the business long term. This includes;

  • Creating structured information channels to provide the most efficient workload management
  • Streamlined reporting that tracks, manages and disseminates information then re-published for general audience i.e. stakeholders.
  • Analyse and summarise project variables to assist in providing a Single Point oTruth (SPoT)

Some practical considerations for PMO establishment:

  • Greenfield (must haves, should haves, could haves)
  • EPM – Enterprise Portfolio Management tool (type, size, structure, reliability, support).
  • Needed for growth (scalability, upskilling, streams)
  • Process to roll up large volumes of data consistently and timely (software)

Setting the management structure and infrastructure (tools, templates, processes and procedures) for example by;

  • Establishing Governance, role responsibilities, the PMO charter
  • Creating single source of truth in short period of time
  • Facilitate decision making process
  • Consolidated timely reporting
  • Resource utilisation and workforce management
  • Build and maintain change control processes, issues and risks processes, financial management processes, document management processes
  • Set up access to policy and strategic information
  • Project control and governance frameworks
  • Building rapport with business stakeholders at all organisational levels

There is a lot involved in building a greenfield PMO and above is just a quick overview of some of the key components but isn’t an exhaustive list by any means. There is a lot involved but setting the foundations right at the beginning is imperative to the long term success of your PMO.