• Do we need to set up or have a PMO? 
  • What exactly does a PMO do?
  • Factors that may preclude PMOs success.
  • Summing up.

Do we need to set up or have a PMO? 

Is this necessary for our organization to add another external department or create internal one? Is PMO the right way to go? This is the internal debate between the key stakeholders in any organization that think in considering a Project Management Office for the first time, why? as most of those stakeholders worry about the idea of having PMO that may slow down the progress of their projects. Why you should have PMO or set up your internally one, that is what we are going to describe in the following lines.

There are many benefits for having a PMO, which are very clear in larger companies with high and increasing project volume with complexity. Usually top management in the company needs to keep track of all the projects, changes happened or planned to happen, conflicts that may occur wether inside the project team or outside the project itself with other entities, risks and guide them to make the necessary decisions. Executive management and other department heads usually have other important things to do and track as well as this, the project managers need to take care of their own projects as their main role. So, who should track and monitor all the not so little tasks of many projects’ management? 

What Exactly Does a PMO Do?

A PMO preserve an overview of projects, knows the organization strategy, and works hand in hand with the organization assistance to ensure achieving of the organization strategy. However, the PMO main objectives areas have great variance from organization to another one. There are no “standard” PMO task fields, but it mostly ranges within the following:

  • Classifying project portfolio, selecting, and prioritizing projects according to the organization strategy and available resources, preparing decision-making and supporting in decision-making for the portfolio board.
  • Planning of resources at the portfolio-level, optimizing and achieving the best use of resources and solving any resource conflicts wether by allocation, levelling, outsourcing or as parties agreed.
  • Keeping current employee data, especially related to capacity, capacity building and skills.
  • Standardizing of methods and processes used in project management and selecting what fit with each project.
  • Selecting, implementing, and training of employees on applicable tools and software that will extremely help in achieving successful projects
  • Increasing the transparency of under implementation and planned projects through collecting of up-to-date and reliable project data that mainly affect decision-making process.
  • Enhance information flow and communication according to the communication   management plan.
  • Creating lessons learned repository based on past projects to work as knowledge data base for using in future projects to avoid any old mistakes that affected past one’s.
  • Monitoring and controlling of project progress in a way that can deal with any unplanned risks that may affect projects resources, budgets, and schedules within portfolio. 
  • Implementation of periodical and necessary training and coaching for project leaders and key stakeholders. 
  • Providing all project managers and project teams in the organization with all needed administrative and operational support.

Factors that may preclude PMOs success

A PMO’s success depends mainly on assigning the right person to lead it. Stakeholders may demand unrealistic changes, so the only way for PMOs to be successful is with having complete assistance from management, clearly defined responsibilities, and objectives. 

Then there’s the organization project management maturity level and its culture, sure it may take time for the PMO to handle this point smoothly. To achieve this transition successfully there must be transparency in the organization environment. Therefore, how transparency is applied in the organization culture is going to either help or be an obstacle. But once it has been approved and confirmed to begin and proves its usefulness, you’ll find it an vital part of project management as it helps in providing overview for the organization project managers who might not see the whole picture as they are often pulled to work in the sites or war rooms. 

A PMO is also considered successful when it has the right tools that provide it with the information needed to oversee the project or portfolio it’s responsible for tracking and managing 

Also, non-existence of executive support from organization side, which is very important for the success of the PMO because executives are at the heart of the project, their supportive engagement is key factor to resolve any resource, priority conflicts and risks that may arise during project implementation. 

Summing up

With a PMO you can manage many projects in alignment with the organizational strategies and objectives. With the help of a PMO, these projects can be managed ‘‘during all project life cycle’’ within the assigned budget and use of the available resources. This means that the cost per project decreases as a result of mistakes and reworks costs avoidance. Which, subsequently, improves your customer and client’s satisfaction. That sounds good, right? While the benefits of a PMO may be difficult to see at beginning, the medium to long-term value of establishing it, high-functioning PMOs has been confirmed and approved by organizations all around the world making the numbers of PMOs are increasing year on year.

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