Project Management Office

“PMO” stands for “project management office”A project management office (PMO) is internal or external group to a company, which sets, supports and secures standards for project management within that organization. Think of the project management office as the regulatory commission that is seeking to standardize and implement cost-effective repetition during project execution to maintain productivity. So, it is a source of documentation, which also offers leadership to the project and develops metrics on the practice of project management and its execution. According to Brian Weiss – vice president and practitioner career development of the Project Management Institute- “PMOs are in place to help organisations deliver value to their stakeholders to project and programs”.[i]

PMOs have been around since the 1800’s, though their function has changed over time. They started as a type of national governance of the agricultural industry, but in 1939’s they were beginning to be named as a project management office. What we know today didn’t exist until the 1950’s, and today they are a dynamic entity used to solve specific issues.[ii]

According to PM Solutions research, 85% of companies had a PMO in 2016, which was 5% more compared to 2014 results. They also found that 30% of companies without a PMO plan to create one.

Now let’s see what are the roles and responsibilities of PMO.

A PMO ensures the correct implementation of the company procedures, practices and operations on time, on budget and all in the same extent as well as project and program success, because organizations deliver value through projects and programs. But how they do that depends upon how they’re situated within the organization.

According to Michael Fritsch – vice president PMO at Confoe, which both provides PMO services and helps companies create their own internal PMOs, says that a good PMO:

  • Provides palpable, repeatable, long-term business benefits
  • Consistent with corporate strategy and culture
  • Is flexible enough to adapt as strategy shifts
  • Is a key factor for the high-performing organization
  • Combines data and information from corporate strategic projects/supports the balanced scorecard
  • Provides the sharing of resources, methodologies, tools and techniques for project success within the enterprise
  • Defines and develops project management methodology, best practices and standards
  • Coaches, mentors, trains and provides supervision for project managers and staff [iii]

What Are The Functions Of PMOs? 

The PMOs have not always only been about standards and methodologies, they can be part of strategic project management and can monitor and report on active projects and portfolios, reporting progress to top-tier management to promote strategic decision making. But in general most PMOs act as the fundamental of a successful project management approach in any company. They offer support and information and most of them provide these services to their organizations and projects.

  • Governance: They make sure that the right decisions are being made by the right people based on the right information. This can also include auditing and peer reviews for developing the project structure.
  • Transparency: Provides information which is actual and exact to support effective decision-making.
  • Re-usability: There’s no reason to “reinvent the wheel,” so they are a depository of learned lessons, offering templates and best practices from previous successful projects.
  • Delivery Support: Support project teams and help them do their jobs more effectively and productively by optimizing process, offering training, mentoring and quality assurance.
  • Traceability: They also manage documentation, project history and organizational knowledge. [iv]

Different Types Of PMOs

The PMOs have three general types:

  •        Supportive
  •        Controlling
  •        Directive

Supportive PMO is kind of PMO called “kumbaya”, where a PMO provides help if it’s necessary.

Controlling PMO is not completely hands off but it’s not a task master either. It gives the company patterns, procedures and reporting. This type of PMO is the most common and considered to be a mid-point spot of imposing some standards, providing all that support.

Directive PMO is where the PMO guides project management of the work, assists and controls the world. This type of PMOs are mostly used in high risk and highly regulated environments.

PMOs can be also internal or external.

Internal PMOs “bridge the gap between teams involved in agile development and very iterative development,” said Jeff Grieshaber, senior manager at World Wide Technology.[v] This type of PMO  mostly common in companies that are running large programs in business process transformation.

External PMOs as opposed to internal ones, are really good at communicating with the customers and the stakeholders and product teams that are doing the development of the work that you’re managing.

According to an April 2017 report, the role of PMO can be changed because of digital transformation, especially when artificial intelligence becomes more prevalent and takes on traditional P MO functions.

It Is Important To Know, How PMO Benefits The Business.

Now when you know more about what a PMO is and what it does, about its roles, responsibilities and functions, it’s becoming more clear the reason why a project is going to benefit from having one.

  • Offers guidance.

First, when you have such an organization you have an agency to align the project or portfolio of projects with an eye focused on the future strategy of the organization. This enables you to work within the borders of a long-term plan and therefore be more efficient in your decision-making thanks to the leadership of the PM office.

  • Helps keep projects on track.

They also act like an external mechanism to implement projects successfully. Due to their metrics-based evaluation, they can help keep projects on track and aware you when scheduling, budget and other scope issues are threatening to wreck the project.

  • PMO has a big picture view.

When you’re working on a projects portfolio, the project group has a strong understanding of the links between those projects. They know about the dependencies that can have an influence one to the other.

  • Helps with communications.

PMOs can make easier communications with stakeholders and make sure that your message is delivered and understood. PM governance can help with communications also across the board, as they often have working relations with other parts of the project or program participants that you might not be as closer with.

  • PMO shares resources throughout the organization

If your company resources are limited but your projects aren’t, a PMO can strategize the use of that resources within your project or program to use them more productively.

When you have yours aligned to a business case and strategy, there are many benefits like this, from support to portfolio management, centralizing training and project management tools, as well as mentoring.[vi] Of course, only a project management office is not enough, besides that you need good people, proven processes and supporting technology to get the most out it.