What is the value of a PMO?

Paul Naybour

David seems to have stirred up a bit of hornets’ nest with his piece about the negative value of the PMO, in project magazine. Having led a couple of PMOs and worked with many I can see the value in David’s arguments. A poorly run PMO can do little or nothing to support the delivery of successful projects in an organisation. They can be over obsessive about corporate reporting processes, following the process for the sake of the process and confuse accountability for the reporting of project progress. A well run PMO can provide support to project managers then they find makes a significant contribution to the successful delivery of the project, through providing the proper tools and skills to deliver the projects. This is especially true in organisation with lots of small and diverse projects which are not significant enough to invest in their own processes and system. However the PMO needs to remember it is there to improve project performance.

Advantages and disadvantages of a PMO

Advantages of a PMO? Disadvantages of a PMO?
  • Can stimulate consistency of approach offering economies of scale.
  • Can provide specialist resources not available to the project team
  • Can provide independent support and coaching to project managers
  • Can provide support to senior managers for decision taking
  • Can lead the development of project management methods, tools and training.
  • Can become reporting focused
  • Can lose touch with the project delivery teams
  • Can sponsor methods which do not meet the needs of the project teams
  • Can be perceived as increasing bureaucracy in the way of project delivery
  • Can confuse assurance with support

How the measure the value of a PMO?

How can we evaluate if the value of PMO exceeds its cost? Would the project managers pay for the PMO as part of the project costs? One way of evaluating the performance is to use them as an internal consultancy team, with targets to win support assignments from project managers. In this way they can generate income to invest in services systems, processes and training to offer the project managers. These project managers are only likely to buy the services that they perceive as adding real value.

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