First, functional and facilitator for the future

the program management office role in IT operations engineering implementation



The science fiction of yesterday is the reality of today … and more. This is rarely truer than in the Information Technology (IT) environment. Computer systems years ago were housed in huge, specially-controlled rooms, but were only capable of the simplest of calculations when compared to today’s powerful computers.

A business of yesterday need only rely on its people, processes and very limited technology.We have witnessed a technological revolution in the 20th Century. But now, in the 21st Century, we are undergoing a new revolution, not of technology alone, but rather, of information combined with technology. The conduit of that information is made up of people using processes, which are implemented and maintained by the highly complex networks of computers in place today. The Internet, intranets, Wide Area Networks (WANs), Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs), Local Area Networks (LANs), and Wireless Systems, are just some of the tools that make up the core of many businesses today. Business relies on the sound function of their computing environments to keep forging into the future.

This is all good and well, but what makes the computing environments function reliably? It is the implementation of key operations engineering (OE) disciplines, which enable the perennially short-handed IT departments to function and scale to meet the demands of today’s fast-paced business environment. But how can IT departments put these OE disciplines into place? This is where sound project management enters the picture facilitated by the Program Management Office (PMO). It is this PMO activity, associated with the implementation of the OE disciplines, which is the subject of this paper. This paper is not simply an intellectual exercise in how an OE discipline implementation should be done. Rather, it is based on the author’s experience of one such implementation in a large, telecommunications company, which will be referred to as Telco (not its real name).


Discipline is defined as being: “a rule or system of rules governing conduct or activity” (Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary).

Operations Engineering (OE) is defined as: the compilation of various disciplines necessary to run an Information Technology computing environment.

Program—“A program is a group of projects managed in a coordinated way to obtain benefits not available from managing them individually.Many programs contain elements of ongoing operations” (Project Management Institute 2000).

Program Management—“There is often a hierarchy of strategic plan, program, project and subproject, in which a program consisting of several associated projects will contribute to the achievement of a strategic plan.“In some application areas, program management and project management are treated as synonyms; in others, project management is a subset of program management” (Project Management Institute 2000).

Program Management Office (PMO)—“A service organization established to support project roles in the execution of their responsibilities” (Project Mentors, 2000).


The discussion will cover the following:

• Organizational Structure

• National OE Practice PMO

• Telco PMO

• Roles and Responsibilities

• National OE Practice PMO

• Telco PMO

• Processes

• Technology.

Organizational Structure

Management of the Telco Program was conducted with two levels of PMOs. The first level of PMO was at the consulting company’s national practice level. The second level of PMO was on the Telco Program.

PMO Levels

National OE Practice PMO

The company’s national OE practice PMO has the responsibility of managing the program in its relationship to the other programs and projects underway in the national practice. The national PMO’s responsibilities covers five primary areas:

Exhibit 1

Exhibit 1

Administrative and technical support: This area concentrates on alleviating the program and project managers in the field from administrative and technical details.

• The PMO will:

• Track the following on OE programs and projects:

• Capabilities, skills and expertise of project managers and team members

• Location of project managers and team members

• Timesheet recording of project managers and team members

• Assignment of project managers and team members on OE programs and projects

• Provide National, Practice area and client reports

• Provide metrics and visibility for programs and projects, such as:

• Scorecards

• Productivity ratios

• Profit margins

• Budget expenditures

• Analyze project budgets and schedules

• Compare to other projects for performance

• Check completion versus expenditures

• Act as the custodian of project management systems infrastructure, including:

• Scheduling tools

• Timesheet recording mechanisms

• Information repository

• Provide configuration management of project management documentation, products and processes

• Documentation storage and version control mechanisms

• Configuration control of various configuration items, such as:

• Work breakdown structures

• Responsibility matrices

• Estimates

• Templates

• Process models

• Project management standards and methods:

• This function establishes the project management standards, methodologies and processes used for OE projects and programs.

• The basis for these methods, processes and standards will be A Guide to the Project Management Body Of Knowledge by the Project Management Institute. Therefore, tools and methods will need to be closely aligned to this guidebook.

Training: The PMO will:

• Develop/procure and administer the OE project management training curriculum for project managers, team members and management

• Provide the means for project managers to become Project Management Professionals (PMPs) through the Project Management Institute

• Encourage continuous learning and application of project management best practices by project managers and team members

• Consulting and mentoring:

• The PMO will provide:

• Coaching for project managers and team members in the project management discipline

• Mentoring for project managers and team members.

• This consulting and mentoring can take the form of the following activities:

• Provide project start-up assistance

• Conduct risk assessments of projects

• Offer assistance in project recovery

• Work with senior management in project management methods and processes

Project portfolio management: The PMO will participate in project portfolio management.

• Project portfolio management is the method by which OE can meet its strategic goals.

• “Portfolio management balances the vision of strategic plans with the realities of limited resources. Portfolio management contains components that link the project approval gates to the strategic and operational plans of the firm, as well as its budgeting process” (Verzuh).

• In essence, project portfolio management looks at its project “investments” just as an individual might manage their stock portfolio.

• “This portfolio management relies on accurate information delivered in a consistent format from every project” (Verzuh).

Major Responsibilities of the National OE Practice PMO

Telco PMO

• The Telco PMO was set up as part of the program in accordance with the Statement Of Work (SOW). As with any good project or program, one must begin with a sound SOW.

• The SOW for implementation of OE disciplines in the Telco IT Operations Department stated words similar to the following (some specific material has been omitted to maintain client confidentiality):

• Implementation of the Operations Engineering Disciplines requires the consulting firm to establish an OE Program Management Office (OEPMO) for the Telco Program. Each implementation of an OE Discipline will be handled as a project.

Exhibit 2

Exhibit 2

• The purpose of the OEPMO is to plan and oversee the OE discipline implementation projects.

• At project kickoff, a project plan, schedule, and list of deliverables will be presented and approved by the Project Team and Sponsor, and any personnel designated by the Sponsor.

• Throughout each phase, the Sponsor will

• Receive regular status reports from the OEPMO

• Participate in the reviews to ensure adequate progress is achieved.

• The OEPMO will ensure all projects are kept on schedule and deliverable targets are achieved.

• Project Managers on the program will report to the OEPMO Program Manager on project responsibilities, including status. For discipline content and approval the Project Managers will report the Program Architect.

• A Completion Certificate will be issued for each deliverable. The OEPMO Program Manager and the Client’s Program Manager will sign this Completion Certificate. (An Appendix showed the certificate, not included here.) Original, signed documents will be filed at the OE National PMO.

• All change activity for delivered documents, including the SOW, will be managed through a documented Change Process. (Certain contract language is omitted here to protect the consulting company’s implementation methods.)

PMO Members Roles and Responsibilities

The understanding and execution of individual roles and responsibilities is critical to the proper management of programs and projects. The roles and responsibilities described here, again, take on two flavors: the National OE Practice PMO members and the Telco Program members.
National OE Practice PMO

Exhibit 3

Exhibit 3

• PMO Manager

• Responsible for the design, development, and implementation of effective project management practices, strategies and standards for the OE National Practice.

• Responsible for the design, development and implementation of effective project development life cycle practices and strategies for all OE projects.

• Consult with management of the OE practice to maintain and communicate information in the practice’s project portfolio as well as to identify continuous improvement possibilities for project-related activities.

• Responsible for the design, development, and implementation of measurements and compliance reporting for all project management activities.

• Direct staff and PMO development projects as appropriate.

• Guide, direct, mentor and monitor PMO staff members to make sure people on the staff are being utilized in the best manner possible.

• Prepare, status and administer the National OE PMO budget.

• PMO Program Manager/Project Manager/Project Administrator

• Although the words are similar for each of the roles above, the differences between the three functions relates to years of experience, training and responsibility given on various programs and projects. I have not included the expectations in these realms within this paper.

• Support OE team members in project-related activities. These responsibilities include coordination efforts to establish, document, communicate and promote project policies, procedures, guidelines, standards and tool usage.

• Assist in defining and improving project processes throughout the project management maturity scale. Use the defined processes. Be a mentor to project administrators, project managers and other OE team members.

• Do continuous research on project life cycles, the project management profession, and its associated skills. Make recommendations on improvements based on research for future Program Management Office and OE work efforts. Encouraging and collect feedback from all team members, project managers, program managers and project administrators regarding continuous improvement possibilities. This activity includes furthering their personal knowledge base through training courses, seminars, study, training opportunities, speaking engagements and conferences.

• Coordinate, facilitate and guide program managers, project managers and team members in project management practices. Review project plans and other deliverables for risks, improvements, and compliance with project management standards and guidelines.Develop, collect and document project status metrics for reporting to practice managers, clients and other company personnel.

• Fill in for PMO manager/program manager/project manager when necessary.

• Telco Program Member Roles

In practice, we published a Roles and Responsibilities Matrix for the various roles on the Telco Program. In that matrix the roles are discretely described using five roles: accountable, responsible, consult, inform and signature. I have only included the accountable roles below. Also, I have simplified the member roles to three: the Program Manager, Project Manager and Team Member. This is done to protect the consulting company’s implementation methods.

Program Manager

• Status

• Collect project scorecards on a weekly basis

• Consolidate project scorecards into a program scorecard on a weekly basis

• Collect, document, resolve and status project issues, risks and problems

• Collect Transition Checklists and Document Delivery Matrix updates

• Create and maintain Deliverable Status Matrix

• Planning

• Publish and maintain:

• Program plan

• Program schedule

• Communication

• Meet with client program manager to provide Program and Individual Project:

• Status

• Schedule

• Issues, risks and problems

• Deliverable Delivery Status

• Capture, track, resolve and escalate all program issues, problems and risks

• Coordinate, schedule, present and obtain sign-off on completion certificates for all program/project deliverables

• Publish, coordinate, and administer all Change Requests and Change Orders

• Work together as a team

• Facilities and Administrative—Coordinate:

• And resolve all facility needs and issues

• Team member access to client facilities

• Team member phone installations

• On-site computing resources Project Manager

• General

• Manages individual project(s)

• Responsible for individual project(s) results

• Status

• Provides weekly status of plans, schedules and deliverables for their project(s) using:

• Project Scorecards

• Project Schedules

• Transition Checklists

• Document Delivery Matrix

• Resource Allocation

• Identify and update resource requirements

• Coordinate project resources

• Planning

• Creates Project Plans and Schedules in support of the Program goals, objectives and schedules.

• Communication

• Communicate issues which may impact completion of deliverables

• Capture, track, resolve and escalate to program manager all project issues, risks and problems

• Coordinate, conduct and sign-off internal reviews for project deliverables

• Work together as a team

• Deliverables

• Create, produce, coordinate approval and publish/implement all project deliverables
Project Team Member

• Contribute directly to the planning, design, and implementation activities associated with the program

• Complete those tasks defined within each project plan assigned to them

• Publish and maintain sub-project schedule.


It is all well and good to blandly define organizational structures along with roles and responsibilities—though not too exciting to read about.However, it is another thing to really understand how these two items noted above work together to actually aid in the implementation of OE programs and projects in practice. This is where the understanding of the next two subject areas becomes key. This is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak.

Processes describe how we are to accomplish the tasks and roles given to us on programs and projects. The processes must be simple and easy to use, or they will go unused, or be circumvented. Therefore, we have a few very simple processes we use to manage the programs and projects in the PMO and engagements in our national OE practice.

At the highest level, the National PMO uses a three-step process by which all programs and projects progress. It is called the 3P PMO Process. Each project, or program, progresses through these three steps. Below each step are a number of phases. Each phase has a specific definition with deliverables noted where appropriate.

The programs and projects are all measured against their progress through the 3P PMO Process Steps and subsidiary phases. In addition, metrics at the National PMO level track costs against billing for an assessment of profit margin on each project and program.

3P PMO Process

On the program, or project, level there is also a set processes followed for delivery of the final products and services to the client. A number of tools are used to accomplish this including:

• Completion Certificate for each deliverable

• Scorecard for each project

• Scorecard for the program

• Deliverable Status Matrix

The Completion Certificate is, in essence, the equivalent of a bill of lading for each service, or product, delivered to the client. This certificate carries with it the understanding that the service or product is complete as agreed-upon in the SOW. Both the OE Program Manager and the Client Program Manager sign the certificate acknowledging the deliverable’s satisfactory completion. This simple, visual tool allows each party to keep track of progress throughout the entire timeframe of the program.

The Scorecards track the progress of the projects and also the program as a whole. It is the repository for a quick look at project and program status. The scorecards use the “stoplight” approach to give status on each major issue, risk, high-level task and deliverable. This tool simplifies the burden on the client’s Program Manager of going through schedules and other paperwork to determine if the program and its various projects are progressing satisfactorily.

Exhibit 4. Program Scorecard Page One

Program Scorecard Page One

Exhibit 5. Program Scorecard Page Two

Program Scorecard Page Two

Exhibit 6. Deliverable Status Matrix

Deliverable Status Matrix

The Deliverable Status Matrix utilizes a simple summary technique to show percentage complete for each project, deliverable and technological tool implementation on the program. Behind the spreadsheet matrix is a series of calculations based on a weighting of the difficulty for each deliverable combined with its importance to the project as a whole. These weights are then multiplied by the percentage complete based on the task completions in the project schedules which support the total closeout of the deliverable.


The final component of the PMO role in IT Operations Engineering implementation relates to the use of technology. Technology is usually translated into the use of various tools.

Tools have really exploded in the realm of program and project management in recent years. This paper will not discuss nor recommend specific tools—that would require an entire paper in and of itself and still not do justice to the subject. Rather, I will refer to categories of tools and their function.

The tools of the PMO at both the National OE Practice level and the individual Program level includes:

• Computer-based scheduling tool, preferably with Earned Value and Critical Path capability

• Spreadsheet templates for calculating completions

• Accounting and time-keeping programs to track actual labor and expenses against the projects and programs

• Server-based document management and storage hardware and software

• The ubiquitous email programs for communication

• Action Item log

• Issues log

• Resource calendar and skills tracking program

• Use of an Enterprise Project Management (EPM), or Professional Services Automation (PSA), tool with capability to do many of the functions noted above as well as allow e-mail notification of tasks, action items and issues at various points in time.


Today’s fast-paced, demanding business environment requires companies to manage the implementation of effective Operations Engineering (OE) disciplines into the IT operation. To do this successfully, project management techniques must be used. In fact, the most effective way to do this on a consistent basis is by employing a fully-functional Program Management Office (PMO) to facilitate these OE Discipline implementations.

Using a functional PMO with sound processes, technological tools and trained (preferably certified PMPs) people will enable your company to be First To The Future!

Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary,

Project Management Institute. 2000. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) - 2000 Edition. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.

Project Mentors. 2000. Implementing a Project Office A Practical Approach. PMSI*Project Mentors.

Verzuh, Eric. The Fast Forward MBA in Project Management.

Proceedings of the Project Management Institute Annual Seminars & Symposium
November 1–10, 2001 • Nashville, Tenn., USA



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