15 September 2022

REVIEW: The PMO Lifecycle by William Dow, PMP

You are here:
The PMO Lifecycle

“The PMO Lifecycle: Building, Running & Shutting Down” by William Dow, PMP is my go-to book when setting up or improving a PMO, and I keep it close to hand on my business bookshelf for easy reference.

It’s definitely a how-to manual, packed with checklists, diagrams and review questions to embed your learning. You can find a free sample chapter on Bill’s website here.

Also available is a wall poster outlining the 12 critical steps when setting up a PMO – something Bill was kind enough to allow me to reference as the basis of my Stand Up 4 PMO session in late 2018. He’s also created a playlist of 6 videos over on YouTube.

It’s an investment at around £50, but one you’ll be glad you made if you’re looking for a long-lasting, practical reference book.

Get your copy of “The PMO Lifecycle” here.

PART 1: The Fundamentals

Don’t be tempted to skip this part! 

Chapter 1 highlights the top reasons why PMOs fail, along with how long a PMO Manager typically has to demonstrate value and how long a typical PMO survives. Maybe a negative place to start, but crucial to ensure you don’t make some avoidable errors.

Chapter 2 gives some project management history – from the creation of the GANTT chart in the early 20th century through to the early 21st century, when PMO really became well recognised term across businesses.

Chapter 3 moves on to cover key topics like effective Executive Support and communicating value.

PART 2: Building a PMO

Over 200 pages are dedicated to Building a PMO, covering topics like:

  • Choosing a PMO process methodology (project, programme or portfolio)
  • Relevant industry project delivery methodologies including construction, software, manufacturing
  • Selecting a PMO model, including staffing
  • PMO capabilities and competencies, plus typical PMO roles and responsibilities
  • Deciding on the PMO services to offer
  • PMO success metrics
  • Designing PMO processes for planning, initiating, executing and closing projects and/or programmes
  • PMO Tools 

PART 3: Running a PMO

Moving onto the day-to-day operational aspects of PMO, each of the topics covered across these 100 pages will have greater or lesser relevance to your own situation depending on where in the PMO lifecycle your function is – new, maturing or approaching end-of-life.

Topics covered here include:

  • PMO reporting
  • PMO Metrics, KPIs and performance management
  • Line management
  • Opportunities for improvement and transition plans
  • PMO change management

PART 4: Shutting down a PMO

This final part isn’t as lengthy as the rest of the book, but its no less useful if you find yourself being asked to close down a PMO.

Much like closing down a project, there is a list of tasks that need to be executed properly to make sure that a PMO is closed responsibly.  

There’s also some discussion here about why PMOs shut down – and the important distinction between shut down and failure.