Why a Project Management Office (PMO)?
Functions of a Mature Project Office
A mature project office provides a multitude of services. The project office is generally regarded as a Project Management Center of Excellence. The professionals who staff these project offices should be experienced and trained in advanced management and leadership skills, as they will continually collaborate with senior project personnel, senior management, and staff at customer decision-making levels. Additional resources assigned to the project office or to a specific project must also behave in alignment with the established PMO procedures.
Some of the services performed by project offices include specific needs training, best management practice development, project, program and portfolio administration, tool evaluation and selection, consulting and mentoring. It serves as a home base for project managers, providing guidance, direction, training, and a primary escalation path.
Specific Needs Training
The project office is concerned with training relevance and consistency. In addition to project staffing services, the project office provides a full range of specific needs training for project managers and project teams. This training can be delivered on a scheduled basis as well as through a request cycle for organizational needs outside of the PMO. This function identifies the PMO as a resource center.
Best Management Practice Development/Methods and Standards
Project management processes are developed, used, refined, and implemented throughout the organization as best management practices by the project office. The project office should enforce a project management process that spans the project selection to project closure phases. From these processes, metrics are developed to measure project performance and improvement. These best practices and lessons learned are stored in a repository for use on subsequent projects, hence building accuracy, mitigating risk and reducing cycle time. The data is accessible and used by the core PMO team and any other resource working inside the PMO structure.
Many mature project management organizations are instrumental in researching, evaluating, and selecting a Project/Program/Portfolio Management Tool (PPM) to support project delivery. These tools, of which there are many, cover almost all of the functions used by PMO Management including capacity/demand planning; project scheduling; metrics capture, reporting and dashboarding; time capture; and use as repositories for best management processes and practices. A mature project office should eventually utilize external benchmarking to further improve project performance and organizational efficiency.
In most organizations, project management means scheduling. In addition to scheduling, the project office should also be involved in project planning, resource estimating, contracting/procurement, project control, variance analysis, and administrative support. The administrative support can be significant. Recent studies indicate that over 50% of the project manager’s time is devoted to administrative tasks.
Project Consulting and Mentoring
Many organizations are using external consulting/mentoring to supplement and complement their formal project management training. The mentors/consultants can develop inseparable relationships with project managers if they provide value to the project. The reputation of a project office is built upon continued responsiveness to the project management needs of the organization.
The Project Governance Model depicted above is an example of a model which works equally well at either the project or program level. The activities within each step are virtually the same, only the level of involvement is higher on the program model. To convert this to a program governance model, simply add a Program Level step and change the title of the Project Office Level box to Program Office Level. More detailed governance models are available for any flavor of project to be managed.
The PMO Maturity Timeline depicted to the left is an example of a plan for the evaluation, implementation, and maturation of an organizational PMO, including the implementation of, training for, and eventual migration onto a Project/Program/Portfolio Management tool. Each timeline must be specifically matched to the needs of the organization.
Building a PMO will pay dividends for your organization by ensuring efficient and effective project delivery every time!
Governance Model Example
PMO Implementation Timeline