What is a PMO - or - What should a PMO be?
In the head title I called it Project Management Office to make it simpler but actually it should rather be called Program- or Portfolio-Management Office. It´s main task is to align several projects or workstreams that are interacting between themselves or with the strategic orientation of a business. Alignment is needed between the work streams but as well within the company´s organisation and hierarchy. Like a spider in the net the PMO identifies “vibrations” - meaning misalignments to the targets of the program – and makes these transparent for everybody involved to be able to solve the issue. By dedicating the right resources to the right prioritised tasks, supporting with methodology, organising meetings and standardising the project management tools and methods the PMO improves the effectiveness to achieve the defined targets as fast and efficient as possible.
When does a PMO really make sense?
With just 1 project, a dedicated set of targets and sufficient resources as well as expertise there is not a lot of need for a PMO. But as soon as there is a multitude of work streams and/or projects especially interacting with each other or even having competing targets a PMO does make sense. In these circumstances it is vital to constantly align between the projects and departments involved as well as report to the top management to set priorities right and in case of conflicts get the go ahead for solutions.
Who should be involved in the PMO?
As there is a multitude of roles of a PMO and as there very likely is not one person who fits all these roles there should be a team covering the PMO roles and tasks. The characteristics of this team should be:
- High degree of seniority to be on eyes level with the top management and the senior experts involved
- High degree of expertise covering the tasks and targets of the work streams to get all experts and responsible people into the same boat
- Good social skills and moderation competence to support discussions and find the right compromise if needed
- Project management skills with a good degree of persistence and administrative skills
- Good skills in solution finding as well as problem solving techniques and methods
To be able to balance different positions especially in case of conflicts it is preferable that these characteristics are available in the PMO team additionally to the expertise in the respective project teams.
What are the main success factors for a PMO?
- Support by the Top Management has to be apparent for everybody involved
- Clearly dedicate responsibility as well as competence to PMO
- Win acceptance by senior management and experts
- Some quick wins to support acceptance
- Openness and transparency
- Frequent and honest communication to all levels involved
- Documentation of discussions and results
- Agile project management to adjust to changes
These are only some impulses for your thoughts. If you are interested please feel free to contact me to discuss.
With kind regards