A PMO should provide a valuable service
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Some people attending project management training courses will be taking up (or will already have) a role in a project management office (PMO). Unfortunately some PMOs are viewed as an added layer of bureaucracy by project teams and yet, well run, they can add real value to complex projects. So if you are destined for a PMO remember how you could be viewed if you focus too much on sticking rigidly to processes and try to offer valuable benefits that help projects be more successful.
PMOs need to convince their "customers" - project teams, business and IT departments – of their value and one of the most valuable benefits that a PMO can deliver is cost reduction by streamlining processes. They will have an overview of all projects being undertaken in an organisation in a way that the project managers and teams will not. So they will be able to see where there are inefficiencies in processes.
What they must not do is add to the process burden, especially where projects are already highly complex. What's more if a PMO focuses too much on processes that is the quickest way to ensure the team is viewed as a cost - and one that could be expendable. The perception of a PMO by PMs and project teams can be a major issue in some organisations but an effective PMO can have huge influence and impact on improving project delivery.
What do effective PMOs do?
- Effective PMOs make life easier for project managers; they are their ally and assistant, but to fulfil this role they need to show in simple terms how they add value.
- Effective PMOs deliver measurable services to project managers and stakeholders by improving project delivery and minimising project risks.
- They do not try to offer one-size-fits-all procedures in organisations with diverse business needs but tailor their processes to suit those differing needs, whilst at the same time introducing efficiencies and cost savings where possible.
What else other than adding value?
Adding value is, of course, important, because it already costs to have a PMO in place, but at some point that can only be delivered by a framework of procedures that streamline project processes and reporting standards. It's getting the balance right that can be a challenge. The PMO needs to demonstrate that they can ensure projects will be more successfully and consistently delivered as a consequence of their input, without adding an excessive cost.