The Successful PMO at Churchill Downs

One of the most interesting presentations I attended at IPM Day 2011 was the case study about how Churchill Downs – home of the Kentucky Derby, also known as the “Greatest Two Minutes in Sports” – set up an incredibly successful project office that has garnered international recognition. It’s fantastic when a successful organization is willing to share their story so other organizations can learn from them and hopefully share the same result.

Churchill Downs found themselves in a similar situation to many other organizations. A lot of their projects suffered because the firm lacked a standard project management methodology. But senior management understood the value a structured process for managing projects and bought into the idea that Churchill Downs needed a PMO in order to create a foundation for project management in the organization.

Before setting up the PMO, the Churchill Downs wanted to first establish a standard project management methodology that managers, team members and stakeholders would understand. So they came up with a very innovative project management methodology and called it the “Project Race Track”. The Project Race Track methodology compared the different phases of a project to the different phases of a horse race. In this way, the PMO was able to communicate to all stakeholders in a language they would understand, and it also helped to combat the resistance to change and gave credibility to the PMO as something to help the firm achieve successful projects, rather than just an “oversight” committee to keep an eye on everyone.

In this presentation from Chuck Millhollan, Director of Program Management at Churchill Downs, shares their success story and explains the approach and best practices behind the development of the PMO at Churchill Downs, available now on-demand at IPM Day 2011!

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