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Don't underestimate the Force of PMO

Most of the time PMO is perceived as administrative function, that does not bring any value. This is because of the fact that visible part of what PMO team does is related with acting as a policeman, asking for various documents being filled, checking the quality, making sure that all governance steps are passed etc. Though in reality there is so much extra that is happening behind the scenes that helps organization to make the right decisions.

What is the role of PMO?

Project management office is responsible for making sure that projects follow set internal rules and regulations in the organization. Supports, onboards project managers in terms of project management processes and toolkit.

Programs are normally constructed from projects or streams, so therefore Program management office oversees all program projects, its progress, maintains program plan and cross projects dependencies, sets governance and ways of working.

Meanwhile Portfolio management office requires mature team, because this function has to understand portfolio dependencies, how portfolio content supports company strategy, helps with setting up a tactical plan to achieve company strategic goals, sets rules on how priorities will be setup and makes sure that prioritization takes place.

Different companies need different type of PMO

Level of PMO function depends on the state where company is:

  • How many projects are running?

  • How complexed projects are?

  • Is there any project external drop – dead deadlines for company to meet?

  • Are there and how long project management practices implemented?

  • What is the practice of company staff management?

  • What is the policy of company investments management?

And many other questions, that are important while thinking what kind of PMO you need and how shall you run it.

Where does the force of PMO come from?

Most influential value that PMO brings to the table are elements of:

  • Being able to link projects to company strategy

  • Identifying whether proposed projects scope is supporting company strategy

  • Challenging projects business value proposition

  • Setting up rules of prioritization and maintaining them

  • Understanding future backlog and acting proactively on it so no deadlines would be missed

  • Understanding cross – projects dependencies and risks for the organization

  • Standardizing project management practices

No doubt, to make sure that all the functions listed above would be possible to reach, is super important that PMO is comprised of the team that has practical experience in project or program management, business development and actual passion to be in the role. Having team with the skills of how projects are managed and what is the market that company is in, brings valuable oversite and sanity check for the leadership.

Worth to mention, even if primary PMO goal is process standardization, still this basic function brings lots of value as it would create more clarity of what, how and when needs to be done, which saves time, creates less stress for the organization and helps to manage organizational risk appetite.

Final thoughts

If your most immediate answer is “no” to the question “do you need PMO”, because it looks to you as an administrative function, first try to analyze what are the areas that your company struggles with when it comes to project management. There is lots of value that PMO can bring to the table, even if the first step is to standardize processes in project management, which will allow the team to focus on getting things done instead of running around and trying to clarify how to make things happen. And finally, PMO function starting point is project management process and once the function matures it goes to the level of understanding the bigger project portfolio picture in the company.


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