International Project Management Day




Enterprise Project Management Office (PMO) Charter


Quick Summary
To increase the odds of successfully launching a Project Management Office, your charter should help build and document stakeholder consensus about the PMO's goals, mission, constraints, and resources. This charter outline, provided by an experienced and highly successful director of an enterprise PMO, walks PMO heads and stakeholders through key success factors for launching an enterprise-wide PMO, Project Office, or Center of Excellence.


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What this is

A charter outline to establish and publicize the launch, mission, and projected activities of an enterprise-wide Project Management Office (PMO). In addition to traditional charter content like goals, visions, mission, services offered, and so on, the charter outline encourages PMO heads to consider and document the role and responsibilities of their executive sponsor, the names and expectations of their stakeholders, staffing sources, proposed metrics, primary barriers to success, and more.


Why it's useful

Charter statements are just as important to launching a Project Management Office they are to launching the projects the PMO serves. As with any other project, the charter explains the approved work, goals, and budget of the PMO, as well as demonstrating (through the power of signatures) executive approval of and support for the charter's content. In addition, it can serve as an important discussion document while building support, by incorporating feedback from key stakeholders, documenting issues, and building consensus.

The goal of a charter is not to blanket stakeholders with flowery language in defense of a project. Rather, it's to emerge at kick-off with a single, succinct, understandable reference document to guide the new team, inform stakeholders, and ensure the key players clearly understand the PMO's goals, assumptions, and constraints.


How to use it

  • Begin drafting your charter document as part of the initial conversations laying the groundwork for an enterprise Project Management Office in your organization. While the final charter serves as a way to document agreement, the draft is a way to document opening assumptions about the PMO's role, staff involvement, etc.
  • Review the draft charter with stakeholders and key executives, and incorporate their changes. The charter should continue to evolve during initial analyses and meetings as you build support among executives and stakeholders. Make it clear that the draft charter is a discussion document, and revise it as consensus is reached among the key stakeholders. Incorporate information from early proposals and presentations, the business case, cost and budget information gleaned from early analysis, etc.
  • Get official executive sign-off on the Enterprise PMO Charter. Your situation may require the signature of a single executive sponsor, or of both a sponsor and an executive with budget authority.
  • Ensure the charter is distributed to executives and other stakeholders who will be affected by the PMO's services, activities, or resource needs. Use your analysis and summary of stakeholder concerns to inform creation of the distribution list.
  • Officially kick-off your PMO as you would any other project, including distribution and discussion of the charter and the goals, assumptions, and constraints it spells out for the PMO.
  • As the charter evolves and is modified, keep it updated and log changes in the document history. Ensure that modifications are appropriately distributed to key stakeholders, so they can stay aware of what the project office offers the organization, and what is required to ensure success.
About the Author

As past director of the project management office (PMO) at Boston-based Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Lisa DiTullio was a core member of the turnaround team for an organization that went from being placed in State-supervised receivership in 1999 to the #1 Health Plan in America on the U.S. News & World Report/NCQA America's Best Health Plans list three years in a row, and the Highest Rated Plan in the Northeast for member satisfaction according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2007 National Health Insurance Plan Satisfaction Study. Today, Lisa is a leading force in project and business management. She is the principal of Lisa DiTullio & Associates, dedicated to the set-up and management of enterprise project management office models.


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