Having architected and launched several PMOs in my career, I have seen many organizations succeed and fail in a variety of ways. The Project Management Office (PMO) is one of the trickiest departments to establish and operate effectively due to the tremendous pressures that many businesses are facing in this dynamic and unpredictable world economy. Setting up a PMO is only half of the battle; figuring out how to continuously improve this organization and sustain its value is an even bigger challenge.
There are many ways to view a PMO. Some organizations leverage it as a short-term strategy to accomplish a large project, others attempt to build a team that will provide services for anywhere between 3 to 5 years. Either way, a PMO that is not set up to evolve and improve will likely meet its demise much more quickly than anticipated.
So, what are some things we can do to help enhance operational PMOs that are already delivering tangible benefits?
The answer lies in the foundation of the PMO itself. The PMO must be built with intrinsic feedback loops that enables this team to fully understand successes and failures, and adapt accordingly. A static PMO is a dead PMO; given that most PMOs are funded by corporate overhead budgets, building a long-term sustainable team is highly challenging.
How does this “feedback loop” work? One technique is to deploy an iterative process that regularly evaluates performance of the project management team. This goes beyond basic project metrics such as schedule and cost performance. But rather, the assessment must engage the project stakeholders and customers.
Tight collaboration between the project team and the beneficiaries of the project outcomes is critical to the success of the PMO. Holding a project “post-mortem” when the project is over is not enough to build and sustain customer engagement. Seek opportunities to get feedback as early and often as possible.
Another dimension that will help strengthen the PMO performance is expanding the number of services provided. For example, if the PMO is only focusing on project execution, exploration of the below offerings could add significant value to the PMO:
- Portfolio management
- Tools management & configuration
- Program management
To take your PMO to the next level, you might consider increasing the breadth or depth of current service offering; it might make sense to consult your customers (or potential customers) before making this important decision!
For more information, check out ASPE's course, Implementing a Value-Added PMO. This project management training class puts all the pieces in place to make sure work the PMO does provides value and that value is measured and communicated.