Can you make your PMO succeed

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PMO and all the activities to make it work

Project Management Offices (PMO) have been around for decades but there is a great deal of uncertainty about what they should provide.  There is a divide between C-suite leaders on how they should provide service. Project Managers see them as getting in the way. Many organisations form them, attempt to use them. Then disband the PMO or change their focus in a never ending cycle.

Many managers believe a Project Office exists to assist projects and be a centralised administration function. However, endless reporting, reformatting and collation of data does little to improve the effectiveness of projects. The” Admin Only” approach might provide some minor improvements to the work load for project management. But does not change the organisation’s overall delivery effectiveness.

As an alternative to the” Admin Only” approach, the PMO is ideally suited to collect useful information. This can be used to help to ensure projects are aligned to the organisation’s goals. Where such data is analysed in the right way, it can begin to form useful feedback loops to improve the delivery of projects in the future. This approach does not necessarily require staff to have in depth project management experience.  But does require data analysis skills and the ability to effectively use all of the tools available to project and programme managers (spreadsheets, MS Project Plans, SharePoint, PowerPoint, Word etc.).

The role of data and trend analysis in PMOs becomes increasingly important over time; after all it is difficult to make considered and objective decisions based on no information.   Techniques used in big data management can be usefully applied within the PMO. This leads to better data analysis to help define trends and highlight hot spots.

PMO the Admin centre

While you do wish to help reduce the pressure on project management in terms of administration.  As a PMO manager you have to be very clear what that means. You are unlikely to have the scope or budget to afford to put a dedicated full-time project support in each project. The PMO will need to spend considerable time gathering data and assisting the project teams in providing appropriate information. Be clear on what can and cannot be provided.

Use all the tools you have available to help this activity and keep it as lean as possible. Eliminate duplicated effort and introduce ways of work that reduce the overall burden on the projects. Most Programme and Project Managers believe that the PMO add to their workload. Work with them as a group to make processes easier and quicker.  Once project delivery teams see a benefit they will start to support and help the PMO.

Support Corporate progress

Project delivery and senior management see the PMO as police and compilers of information.  In order to break this mold and offer real value PMOs need to provide qualified information on top of collating reporting and offering templates.  The PMO need to look at:

  • Reducing Project Costs
  • Increasing pace of delivery, reducing time to market
  • Enabling the selection and continuation of the most beneficial projects
  • Expanding to assist the organisation with change.

We will explore how each of these areas can be addressed in future posts.

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