The Project Management Office

management office

When it comes to implementing a Project Management Office, a question arises: “Is another department really necessary?”.

In fact, if you are conducting multiple projects, a Project Management Office, or PMO, is practically necessary.

The advantages of a PMO are often ignored or underestimated, but having an office like this increases the chances of success of the project portfolio of an organization.

In general, there are many good reasons for introducing a Project Office, especially in larger organizations with a growing volume of projects and complexity.

But what is a Project Management Office?

The Project Management Office is born over 100 years ago and its function has evolved over time.

The PMO is a group or department within the organization, whose job is to define and maintain the standards for project management.

You can think of the PMO as the “regulatory commission” that seeks to standardize and introduce repeating models and structures in the execution of a project in order to maintain productivity.

It also offers a guide for the project and develops methods on the practice and execution of project management.

What exactly does a PMO do?

In general, a PMO keeps an overview of the projects, knows the company strategy and ensures that both go hand in hand.

However, the fields of application of a PMO vary widely from one company to another.

A unique area of activity does not exist, but there are different possibilities, for example:

  • Compile the project portfolio by classifying, selecting and prioritizing projects according to the company strategy and available resources, and preparing the decision-making process (portfolio management).
  • Plan resources at the portfolio level, optimize their use and resolve resource conflicts.
  • Keep employee data up-to-dated, especially in terms of capacity, project allocations and skills.
  • Standardize methods and processes in project management.
  • Select, implement, and instruct employees on tools and software.
  • Increase the transparency of current and planned projects through reliable and up-to-date project data.
  • Promote the flow of information and communication.
  • Create knowledge based on lessons learned and best practices from previous projects in order to avoid repetition errors.
  • Monitor the progress of the project and the dependencies that affect resources, budgets, and schedules.
  • Train and coach project managers and stakeholders.
  • Support the project managers and the project team from an administrative and operational point of view.

How does a PMO bring benefits to an organization?

Firstly, a PMO allows you to work within the boundaries of a long-term plan and thus be more efficient in decision making thanks to ist guidance.

Moreover, thanks to metrics-based evaluation, a PMO can help keep projects on track and alert when planning, budgets, and other problems are threatening the project. In this way, it is possible to act promptly when problems arise.

When working on different projects, the PMO has a deep understanding of the links and interdependencies between all the projects. This provides an overview of the whole work, which often is not part of the competence or capacity of a single project manager.

A PMO can also be a valid support for the management of communication with stakeholders as well as communication in general. In fact, this office has relationships and contacts with other parties with which a project manager may not be so “intimate”.

And these are just a few examples. The advantages are in fact much more numerous.

With a PMO, you can align multiple projects with your business goals.
Always with the help of a PMO, these projects can be implemented within the budget, using the available resources capacity.

This means that project costs decrease and fewer projects fail. As a consequence, everything is to improve customer satisfaction.

Of course, just setting up a PMO is not enough; in fact, you need valid resources, proven processes, and support technology to get the most out of it.

The success of a PMO is not always immediately visible or measurable. However, the medium to long-term benefit of high-functioning PMOs has been confirmed by many studies.

the project management office

When does an organization really need a Project Management office?

Before starting the implementation of a dedicated office, it is good to consider its real value.
In fact, it is good to define if and how this office can bring benefits to the organization.
The first thing to consider is the state of the art of the company: do the departments communicate with each other and work in harmony? Or do the they work in watertight compartments?

Obviously, in the second case, a PM office can be the ideal solution.

How to activate a Project Management Office in the organization?

After the definition of PMO and seeing the benefits it can bring to an organization, let’s now look at the steps in order to implement it.

The process is structured in three steps.

Step 1: Analysis of the situation

Everything starts with an analysis of the current situation of the organization.
The project management methods, processes, and tools are checked and signs of weakness are identified.

Therefore, a list of projects is created. This has to be informative, complete and updated in order to determine who is working on what.

Having this project documentation is of vital importance in order to then apply improvements to the system.

Step 2: Designing responsibilities and dynamics of the Area

Once the list of projects has been identified, it is necessary to establish the areas of responsibility, the hierarchical position and the powers of the PMO.

For example, is it a service unit that provides the necessary tools or is it set up for the training and support of project managers in order to ensure the quality of the project?

There are several areas that the PMO can cover, including:

  1. Training and coaching and participation in staff development.
  2. Operational support, organization of workshops or project controller.
  3. Analysis and management of methods and processes.
  4. Strategic project management office, responsible for the configuration and implementation of the project, the selection of projects, and their priority through cost-benefit analysis and other variables.

Whatever the area chosen, it is necessary not to overload the PMO right at the beginning.
We recommend limiting it to one or two areas of responsibility.

Step 3: Activate the PMO

Just like any other project, one proceeds step by step.

Once in operation, after activating the responsibilities of the internal staff, the department is ready to prove its validity.
The new PMO must convince all stakeholders of the benefits it brings and provides.

If the PMO is made up of the right people, there will be no doubt that this new department will be warmly welcomed by the organization.

And if the PMO is immediately equipped with a technological infrastructure, and a multiproject management software, the performance increases decisively.

What future for the PMO?

Today’s PMO may not be that of the next years.
In fact, some industry surveys indicate a decline in these areas of the company in the coming years, in favor of new digital teams (link a . This will require adjustments to new practices, also depending on the evolution of the workforce and teams.

Do you also have this vision? Tell us about it, we would like to imagine the PMO of the future together!

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