The PMO Lifecycle: Building, Running and Shutting Down a PMO – How to Shutdown a PMO

Portrait of african businessman shouting and closing ear by his hands on white background

Over the last several months, I have been asked several times to give my presentation “How to Build a PMO” based on my book “The PMO Lifecycle: Building, Running, and Shutting Down”. That’s has been great and people have really enjoyed the presentation and have had some amazing takeaways’ that they could implement. But, for as many presentations I give about building a PMO, I am also starting to get asked about shutting down a PMO. So, I thought it was time to address those steps.  If you are in the position to have to shut down your PMO, the steps provided below are going to help you along the way.

I think it is important before we go to deep, to look at the steps required to building and running a PMO and then as we look at shutting down the PMO, it will be essentially reversing those steps. Clearly, it is not that simple and straight forward, but you get the point, you have to shut down all the components that you built up when you were running your PMO.

Here are the steps to building a PMO:

Before we do that, running a PMO takes you setting up a solid foundation and in my earlier article “The Tactical Guide for Building a PMO – How to Build a PMO”, I cover these 12 critical steps.

  1. Start with a Plan
  2. Obtain Executive Support
  3. Create PMO Staples
  4. Select 4 P’s of PMO (including Methodologies)
  5. Select PMO Model
  6. Create PMO Maturity Model (Categories and Measurement)
  7. Obtain PMO Resources
  8. Select PMO Training
  9. Implement PMO Methodologies
  10. Select PMO Reporting
  11. Select PMO Tools and Processes
  12. PMO Complete

After we built our PMO, we moved to running a PMO, and here are those steps:

  1. Develop Executive Reports
  2. Develop PMO Reports
  3. PMO Day to Day Operations
  4. PMO Resources (Mentor & Buddy System)

So, at this point, you have built and are running a PMO and now you have been asked to shutdown the PMO. You could have been the employee that has been running the PMO all along or you could have just been hired to shut down the PMO. Whatever the case maybe, you have a huge step in shutting down a PMO.

Again, the process of shutting down a PMO is essentially reversing the steps that you did in the building and running a PMO.

But, it would not be fair to say, just reverse everything you have done. That does not make sense, let’s spend time and look at the top 7 steps in shutting down a PMO.

Here are those 7 steps in shutting down a PMO:

  1. Shutting down your PMO – Creating a Project Schedule
  2. Review resources (FTE & Contactors) for different roles in organization
  3. Shutdown and Mentoring/Buddy Systems in place in Org
  4. Review all Financial/Billing and determine steps to close out
  5. Review Software Contracts/Maintenance agreements in place that will need closing
  6. Review PMO Materials/PMO Sites and archive/backup
  7. PMO Shutdown (comment from al, this does not make sense, including a step to shut it down, is what the steps are about. I think you could replace this with communications, HR Negotiations etc.

Let’s spend some time and go into each step and I will provide a bit more details on them so you have context and understand exactly what you have to do.

Shutting down your PMO – Creating a Project Schedule – Shutting down is a huge project that is often under huge time pressure and so creating a project schedule in your favorite scheduling tool is a best practice. Your executives are going to ask you for progress and reports on what is remaining to complete and so having these tasks documented and available for reporting is important.

Review resources (FTE & Contactors) for different roles in organization – Shutting down a PMO will have people impacts across both employees and contractors and as PMO Manager your job is to find different jobs for your people across the company. The employees have to go somewhere, and just because you shut down the PMO does not mean the Programs and Projects go away, so the work is still there. It just means that the formal organization goes away. In PMO’s that are based on one particular program, when the PMO is shutdown usually means the program shuts down and the work does stop. But even in that case, the employees still need to go to a new role.

Shutdown and Mentoring/Buddy Systems in place in Org – In building a PMO, one of the key steps was building a PMO Mentor or Buddy system and when you shutdown your PMO, that means you will need to disband these programs. You are going to see that your employees will be quite upset about shutting down these programs, so there may be a point where the respective employees involved do these mentoring offline. Regardless, sending formal closedown emails and shutting down the program all falls in your responsibilities.

Review all Financial/Billing and determine steps to close out  – This phase of shutting down the PMO will consist of closing out PO’s and returning any unused money to your organization. Make sure that all vendor PO’s are paid out and you are tracking your budget and spending closely in order to be able to close down your budget. It is highly recommended to work with your finance department staff to walk you through this process and close off PO’s and transfer any budget back to the company funds.

Review Software Contracts/Maintenance agreements in place that will need closing – Depending on any software that was purchased for your Portfolio, Program and Project Managers you are going to have to look at any contracts that you have in place with vendor companies and determine how to close them off or at least shutdown billing. Some of these maintenance contracts go on for years, so getting in front of them and shut down all billing is very important.

Review PMO Materials/PMO Sites and archive/backup – In this step of the process, you are taking copies (hard and soft) of all PMO information. From SharePoint sites, to change control process documents, it is important to backup and store offline copies of this information. If/When the company decides it needs a new PMO, you will have all this information at your fingertips and basically be ready to start building a new PMO(Note: PMO Cycle is covered in my article “How to Build a PMO” article).

Failure Rubber Stamp

PMO Shutdown – This is the final last check phase of the project where you have basically ticked and tied all the components of the PMO and shut everything down. This is not a period to celebrate, the PMO shut down for a reason that was most likely not positive, so make sure you handle this whole process professionally and with grace. It is how you handle situations like this management looks at to determine how you will fit in other roles. Which a new role will be exactly what you will be looking for at this moment.  

Bill’s Thoughts: Hey, I just wanted to spend a minute and talk about this whole process for a second and get real with you. I have done this 7 times in my career so far with 6 of them being at one company. As PMO Manager, you are going to have to get used to this process and don’t take it personally. This is just a step in our job that we will have to deal with and get used to. It is hard I know, it is not fun shutting down your baby, but don’t take it personally, it is just business.

Like what you read? Want more information? Check out the full ebook here with much more information on this process! Download the ebook today!

Here are some articles that you may be interested in:

Check out this article I wrote on this subject for on PMO’s.–Does-it-Have-to-be-So-Hard-

Check out the How to Build a PMO article I wrote if you missed it above:

Check out the How to Run a Successful PMO article I wrote if you missed it above:

Good luck, it’s a tough job shutting down a PMO, it is emotional, it is scary, but hang in there you will get through it. I did 6 or 7 times. Depends on when you read this article! Ha ha


Bill Dow, PMP

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