The words make some shudder. Of course PMOs have existed for a long time. They grew as the discipline of project management itself matured and people recognized that project management was a distinct skill set that demanded training and experience, as well as certain natural talents.
While PMOs are often associated with larger firms which need to establish a standard methodology and approach for initiating, managing, and controlling systems-related projects, there are many reasons why a company might consider establishing a PMO.
First, a PMO does not need to be focused on systems-related projects. The real benefit of a PMO is its ability to bring a disciplined approach to how an organization approaches projects. Any time an organization is contemplating a series of projects to introduce transformational change, a PMO can improve the odds of success. Those projects can be systems focused, but they could also be focused on business process redesign, new product development, geographical expansion, acquisition, or reorganization. Each organization can decide for itself what type of projects should fall under the auspices of a PMO.
Similarly, a PMO does not need to be focused on all aspects of project management – at least in its initial implementation. A PMO should address existing organizational problems. If the organization struggles with prioritizing project requests and deciding which projects to fund and staff, the PMO should be focused on this issue. If the organization struggles with keeping projects on track and resolving issues during project execution, the PMO should be focused on this issue. Simply implementing a PMO doesn’t bring value to an organization. Implementing a PMO so that it addresses the real-world issues that the organization is facing does bring value.
While PMOs take many shapes and flavors, they all seek to improve communication, collaboration, and consistency. Organizations face increasingly complex environments while striving to respond to customer demands. They often rely on a set of projects to drive the organization towards a new strategic vision of itself. These organizations can leverage a PMO to more effectively meet these commitments.
So why consider a PMO? If your organization is facing substantive change and needs to improve its ability to consistently and successfully deliver projects so that it can implement that change, a PMO can help.