A project management office (PMO) is a management structure that standardizes the project-related governance processes and facilitates the sharing of resources, methodologies, tools, and techniques. Their responsibility is to make sure company’s procedures, practices, and operations are going right. Brian Weiss, vice president, practitioner career development of the Project Management Institute (PMI®) says “PMOs are in place to help organizations deliver value to their stakeholders to projects and programs.” “PMOs are there to ensure project and program success, and that’s critical because organizations deliver value through projects and programs” he would add. It is a known fact that high-performing PMOs does not only impact project management performance positively but boost overall organizational performance too.
The concept of PMO could be understood by taking the example of an air traffic controller. He is responsible for coordinating the movement of air traffic and making sure that aircraft stay a safe distance apart. In the same way, a PMO office controls the projects coming in and going out of an organization. That means he is responsible for opening and finishing projects within reasonable time frames from one start or completion date to the next. A PMO becomes essential, especially for project-based organizations.
According to PM Solutions’ research, 85% of companies had a PMO in 2016, an increase of 5% from 2014. They also discovered that 30% of companies without a PMO are planning to put one into action soon.
According to PMI’s 2017 Pulse of the Profession, the projects of companies that align their PMO to enterprise-wide strategy met their original objectives with an advancement of 38% than those that did not. The percentage of failed projects was also less by 33%.
It aligns the portfolio of projects keeping future strategy in mind too.
It delivers programs on-time, within budget, and according to the pre-defined scope.
It understands the connections and needs between different projects in the portfolio.
It improves the communication within the program team among all stakeholders.
It increases the value of the PMO and PPM processes.
As discussed earlier in brief, a PMO ensures that the company processes, practices, and operations go well, on time, in the budget, and with as little deviation as possible. A good PMO:
Is agile enough to adapt as strategy shifts
Aligns smoothly with company's strategy and culture
Delivers tangible, repeatable, and long-term benefits to the business
Is a key enabler for the high-performing organization
Integrates data and information from corporate strategic projects
Enables sharing of methodologies, resources, tools and techniques for project success across the organization
Recognizes and develops project management methodology, best practices, and standards
Coaches, mentors, trains, and provides oversight for project managers and staff
Based on how supportive they are, PMOs are classified into three parts, supportive, controlling, and directive.
Supportive: These PMOs just lend their support when it’s needed and does not command any authority over the project.
Controlling: A controlling PMO is neither involved too much with the project nor too less. It’s involved in enforcing
standards, providing support, but not being in charge of everything. It’s the commonest type.
Directive: A directive PMO is in total control and in-charge of the project. He directs project management of the work, support and controls the project, and leaves no stone unturned to make it a success. These are said to be highly regulated and high risk environments.
There are many cases where having a PMO is absolutely necessary but how to decide if you or your company need one? Following points may help you decide:
If there is any kind of disagreement or lack of communication between the team members
You’re not able to achieve desired objective or success with the active strategy and you’re willing to implement a new one
If you’re dealing with the big-budgeted or more significant project because the bigger the budget, the more there are projects, then the more you can benefit from a PMO.
There are a number of projects to control.
You need to manage or coordinate resources from different departments
You rely only on properly well-founded and current data
Projects are being handled by more than one department; they are interdependent and are might transcending national boundaries
You work in a dynamic environment and require fast decisions
The requirements for your reports are increasing, as more and more people ask for more precise information
You need to determine or consider priorities and strategic contributions
A PMO acts as a central hub for the enterprise. It makes sure that all the entities involved with the project have their needs, demands, and requirements satisfied. The PMO contributes to increase the maturity level of your company’s project management, run processes smoothly, and increases the likelihood of successful project completion.