Project Management Offices on a Shoestring


There are a multitude of project and project portfolio management tools available on the market today.  For organizations with a limited number of projects, a limited resource pool, and/or a limited budget, a "PMO Light" approach can work well.

Here are just two examples of how PMO Light can be implemented:

“Ultra-Light PMO” – Straight forward, easy to implement, and FREE!

Getting Setup

  • Install MS-Project, MS-Word, MS-Excel, on project manager's desktop
  • Implement a PMO shared space on a shared network drive.  If you don’t have a shared network drive or you want to share project documents with external clients consider using Google Docs or Dropbox.
  • Create an inventory of project artifact templates ( You can download our free templates here )

Managing the Project Portfolio

  • For each proposed initiative add an additional line to your Project Portfolio Management spreadsheet.
  • The data in this inventory can help your organization make more informed decisions about what projects are a priority to the organization, what is being done for each client organization and which initiatives should advance to the execution level.

Managing Projects

  • Create a separate directory for each active project ( all project specific artifacts should be stored here )
  • As risks and issues come up, populate the Risk Tracking and Issue Tracking inventories
  • Depending on the volatility of your project, size/scope of your project, and your organization’s culture, hold weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly meetings with your project stakeholders.
    • During the meeting, begin with reviewing the most recent Project Status Report
    • Continue by reviewing the updated Project Plan
    • Next move on to reviewing the risk and issue inventories.
    • Be sure to hold these meetings with a “get-it-done” attitude.  Use these meetings to open lines of communication and foster collaboration, not for confrontation.  The goal is to be able to work with your project stakeholders to clear obstacles and road blocks.

“Pretty Light PMO” – Straight forward, easy to implement and practically free !

Another alternative is to implement an extremely low cost ASP solution such as Basecamp offered by 37signals. These types of solutions can be implemented for very low cost ( usually about $20/user per month ).  They don’t offer some of the flexibility and extensive features as some other solutions, but if you are on a budget, they can often offer a pretty good bang for the buck.

In Closing

There are a lot of paths you can take when embarking on a road to improving your organization’s project delivery capability. Always remember, the goal is to get started and show immediate value to you and your organization.  If you want to get started for free, download our free templates.

If you are looking for a more sophisticated enterprise solution, please consider checking out our enterprise PMO solution, the Virtual Program Management Office (vPMO).

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