Setting up a PMO: Effective Strategies and Continuing Challenges – Tkach, Chavez & Griswold

11:00 am -11:45 am

Friday, April 23, 2021

Breakout Room 2


Evaluate Session

What are the opportunities and challenges, easy wins and roadblocks, of creating a Project Management Office (PMO) within a federal agency? The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a US Government international development agency, has been working to answer that question. The MCC model includes the standing up of a brand new entity in a partner country responsible for implementing upwards of a half a billion dollar program within 5 years.

Given MCC’s rigid model, complex programs and multicultural settings, the need for advanced project management skillsets is key. Traditional project management training can be too theoretical or rigid for staff that work in complex, diverse environments. Two years ago, our team stood up the PMO or Integrated Program Management office to introduce advanced project management techniques for staff based in Washington as well as counterparts around the world. The objective of the PMO is to support the teams responsible for implementing the programs both from the partner country as well as the agency through project management guidance and training versatile enough to be adapted in any of our program countries by staff with varying levels of project management expertise.

Through the PMO, we have managed to successfully develop and launch a comprehensive project management framework and support our counterparts in the implementation of their programs. Needless to say, we have also encountered numerous challenges as we continue to build this system, both with our country counterparts as well as in headquarters. This global, multi-cultural, multi-lingual space presents both unique and very common challenges faced by PMOs in any organization. During this session, we will share:

Details of the coalition building strategy for establishing project management standards and expectations adapted to the way our agency does business.

The use of chartering and stakeholder engagement to grow support for the PMO.

The challenges of building a space of authority then maintaining that authority through trust building. Especially as a PMO’s work can seem to infringe on the responsibilities of others.

Finally the impacts and how we measure ourselves.

Our team, the Integrated Program Management Team, remains an adaptive and growing force two years into implementation. The session will engage the audience by both conveying our lessons and strategies while sourcing their knowledge to scenarios and experiences the IPM team is facing now. We hope this inspires others to believe that creating spaces to propel project management practices is possible and worthwhile.

PMI Talent Triangle: Technical Project Management