The Tactical Guide for Building a PMO – How to Shutdown a PMO

shutdown1Over the last several months, I have been asked several times to give my presentation “How to Build a PMO” based on my 2012 book “The Tactical Guide for Building a PMO”. That’s has been great and people have really enjoyed the presentation and have had some amazing take-aways’ 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.

Bill goes even deeper into shutting down a PMO during a live webinar that is available now on-demand.

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).

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.

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-

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


Next Webinar

Mayday! Project Crash Investigation, Part 1. Determining Why Projects Crash

Written by Bill Dow
Bill Dow, PMP, is a published author and project management professional with more than two decades of experience in information technology, specializing in software development and project management. Bill has built and operated large project management offices (PMOs) and is the author of three project management books. The latest is Project Management Communication Tools, co-written with Bruce Taylor. Contact Bill at
Share This Post
  1. Bill, great article on a topic not often mentioned. Where I live we call this a close-out plan, and have them for individual projects as well as for the entire PMO. The only thing I would add is a bit more under Step 2 of the close out: I’d suggest that all affected staff have a personal plan in place (i.e. they have updated CVs and a formal idea on what they would like to do next). Some of the orgs that I work with in the development world also make sure that there is a retraining / job counseling / severance budget in the closeout plan. I also stress the need for a defined closeout plan before the project moves into implementation 🙂

  2. Good article , I have faced this situation of closing down the PMO in our client organization as the new COO had the task to reduce the cost for the company , the decision was not welcomed by many in business and in PMO office but was need of the hour . And it went through all the steps as mentioned in the article i.e. lots of projects were still there pending and so handover was given to people managers and Technical leads . Some admin guys were given extra responsibility of QA and so on for various roles . But within few months the need for a new PMO was realized and slowly a smaller version of another PMO model came into place .

  3. Thanks Jigs, I appreciate the feedback.

    That’s a great edition, I love it. Thanks for letting me know.

  4. Thanks Nitin,

    Yep, it always happens, one shuts down and another one pops up. I call it the PMO Cycle.

    Thanks for the comments.


Leave a Reply