The Project Management Office (PMO) as a pop-up shop (Book Review)


  • This book aims to help PMO people to set up and manage a temporary PMO that effectively supports the associated project or programme.
  • The book targets anyone involved in setting up or running a temporary PMO, based on IPMA and P3O.

What’s inside

  • The book compares a temporary PMO to a pop-up shop, such as those that appear in our high streets in the run-up to Christmas, and then disappear again.
  • This book looks at the temporary PMO through the lenses of its lifespan (set-up, maintenance, and closure) and the project management services offered. It offers practical advice based on the creation of a collaborative and respectful partnership between the project or programme manager and the PMO.
  • The emphasis is on supportive PMO services. The “s” word may not be very fashionable in PMO circles currently, but in my view it is an essential part of how a temporary project or programme PMO makes its contribution – by setting things up to make it easier for the project team as a whole to deliver.
  • The majority of the book is detailed guidance on setting up and running various PMO services. It recommends the reader to review these regularly so they stay relevant to the potentially changing needs of the project or programme.
  • The appendices contain checklist templates to help the reader cover all the bases in setting up, running, and shutting down a temporary PMO.

Some of my favourite take-aways

Amongst the ideas presented, I found the following favourites:

  • How fast you can set up a pop-up PMO will depend partly on organisational maturity. The more mature the organisation, the faster you should be able to set up.
  • For a temporary PMO such as one associated with a project or programme, paradoxically success include disbandment.  As the project or programme succeeds and finishes, so too will the associated PMO.
  • The Pj / PgMO’s main responsibility is to the project or programme. So don’t mess with BAU any more than absolutely necessary.
  • The PMO and the Project or Programme Manager should ideally form a tight partnership, so take time early on to discuss and agree who will do what.

The Verdict

  • As a practical “how to” manual, the book delivers well. The tone is one of advice being passed on from one seasoned practitioner to another. There is plenty of “watch out for…” which you get the feeling is based on practical experience (dare I say scars?).
  • The whole approach seems to be based on the PMO person being employed by an organization running a project or programme for a client, located on the client’s site. This very specific set of circumstances is implied rather than stated explicitly. However it (together with some cultural and language discrepancies between the Netherlands and the UK) does colour some of the advice given so as to require some thought or interpretation.
  • The templates (presented as checklists) are helpful, but in some cases refer to points that I was not able to find in the book. They would have been even more helpful if provided electronically  (perhaps through a companion web site?)
  • Nonetheless, the book offers good value for money, and should be a useful resource to PMO practitioners.
Full title:The Project Management Office (PMO) as a pop-up shop
Author:Mertine Middelkoop
Publisher:CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014

If you are embarking on a strategic project or programme and are comfortable with the business knowledge but feeling a bit out of your depth with the project or programme management, then Pragmatic PMO can help. Why not take a look at our “Get set up for success” service, and if that looks interesting, schedule a free 30-minute consultation to discuss how we can help you?

Author: Ken Burrell

Ken Burrell is a Programme and Portfolio Office (PMO) Professional, who through his company Pragmatic PMO makes targeted improvements to PMO practices to add value to Projects, Programmes and Portfolios. He provides senior management with the analysis they need to make decisions, and gives project and programme managers the support they need to deliver solutions.

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