What is a PMO Charter?
A PMO Charter is one of the most important documents in the life of a Project Management Office. Project charters formally recognize the existence of projects in an organization; the PMO Charter legitimizes the PMO's existence before the business.
Its organizational mandate, which justifies why the PMO is being created, provides a high-level description of what the PMO is set to achieve and its role and, most importantly, it empowers the PMO management team to carry out their functions. In fact, the implementation of a PMO should be no different from any other project: you must define what the project is about from the onset, its purpose, and objectives before it can be approved, planned, and executed. The same applies to the establishment of a PMO via the PMO Charter.
What should a PMO Charter contain?
Describes the organizational context that originated the need for a PMO. Whatever the PMO background is, this must be identified as it will help the PMO define its functions to better respond to the problem, need, or opportunity encountered.
PMO Mission, Vision, and Values:
There is a lot of confusion between mission and vision statements, so let’s briefly recap: mission refers to what the PMO is and the reason for its existence; vision refers to what the PMO aspires to be, that is, would the PMO would appear in a future successful state. Finally, values refer to the fundamental beliefs that dictate action and behavior, what the PMO stands for.
It's not sufficient to say that you want to become the best PMO ever; you also need to identify how you will achieve such a vision. That is done by stating what the objectives of the PMO are. Objectives should be SMART - specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely - and it should be clear how the PMO's success will be measured.
PMO Customers and Stakeholders:
Ultimately, a PMO exists to serve its customers; therefore, it is of utmost importance to identify in the Charter who these customers are. Whereas customers are individuals or groups that will receive services from the PMO, stakeholders are individuals or groups who can affect or be affected by the PMO's work.
This section should define the positioning of the PMO in the organizational structure (who will be the PMO report to?) and define the roles required for the PMO team and their positioning in the hierarchical structure. The responsibilities, accountability, and authorities for each of the PMO roles should also be identified.
PMO Service Offering:
Lists the functions to be performed by the PMO. This section should only provide an overview since a Service Catalog covering all details will be later created during the life cycle of the PMO.
PMO Critical Success Factors:
Critical success factors are all about the aspects that need to be in place for the PMO to succeed in its endeavor. This can include a committed team, strong sponsorship, or sufficient budget and resources, which show that the success of the PMO is not just driven by the success of the PMO team but rather by a joint organizational effort.
Benefits of PMO Charter
- Establishes a sense of direction: With identified objectives and a clear mission and vision statement, the PMO knows where it needs to go.
- Enables buy-in: Rather than relying on assumptions, by putting into words the expectations of stakeholders and customers, the PMO confirms understanding and ensures that everyone is on the same page, in this way facilitating buy-in.
- Creates a reference point: The Charter is a central on-going point of reference for the governance and operations of the PMO, reminding people why the PMO was created and is important.
- Empowers the PMO: By formally recognizing the PMO in the organization through the issue and sign-off of the PMO Charter, the PMO gains authority and legitimacy to proceed and do its magic.