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The meaning and purpose of a PMO
Let me start in the spirit of that classic US game show 'Jeopardy...
Question:(and therefore actually the correct answer; that is just the way it works on the game show trust me - or look it up) 'What isthe department or group that defines and maintains the standards of process, generally related to project management, within an organization?'
Applause from the audience and smiles all round.
Yes, theProject Management Office (PMO)in a business or professional enterprise is typically the department or group that defines and maintains the standards of process, that are generally related to project management, within the organization.
But I am afraid it is not that simple.
The abbreviation, PMO, can stand for Program Management Office (confusingly also a PMO) or Portfolio Management Office (increasingly confusingly also a PMO). There is even talk of a Project Office (PO), a Project Control Office (PCO), a Central Project Office (CPO), and a Project Support Office (PSO). Up to you to choose - what do you have in your company? What are you leading? What are you part of? What is it that you are currently planning?
You may well have a completely different flavour of PMO from the above.
The PMO strives to standardize and introduce economies of repetition in the execution of projects and is the source of documentation, guidance and metrics on the practice of project management and project execution.
It is also the body that links business strategy to the projects that such strategies require.
Organizations around the globe are defining, borrowing and collecting best practices in process and project management and are increasingly assigning the PMO to exert overall influence and evolution of thought to continual organizational improvement. Many PMOs will base project management principles on accepted industry standard methodologies such as the PMBOK or PRINCE2.
There are as many variances in the structure, format and focus of PMOs as there are definitions of the term.
Typically there are five basic types of PMO:
· A Departmental PMO
· A Special-purpose PMO
· An Outreaching PMO
· An External PMO
· An Enterprise PMO
It should also be noted: the 'enterprise' structure can apply in more than one of the first four categories.
Type definition aside, a PMO is a group or department within a business, agency or enterprise that 'owns' the kind of project based activity that cuts across the operational activity. The primary goal of a PMO is to achieve benefits from standardizing and following project management policies, processes, and methods. Over time, a PMO will become the source for guidance, documentation, and metrics related to the practices involved in managing and implementing projects within that organization.
Why do businesses invest in a PMO?
On the one hand, companies of all kinds face the continued fallout from the most recent global recession which has placed an added burden on projects and project managers delivering expected benefits.
On the other, we are part of a dynamic, resourceful and ever-evolving commercial world that demands change as part of its survival; change demands projects, and projects demand project managers.
History is littered with significant project failures (witness some of the statistics of the CHAOS report analysis of IT project success, and more often failure), yet there are also spectacular project success stories linked to the maturing practice of project management.
Those projects that will be commissioned in the future, as well as the ones that are allowed to continue in the current challenging climate, will be expected to deliver greater business benefits, endure closer scrutiny from senior management and are likely to face far more pressures to deliver. There is no longer any room for project failure; projects that are approved need to succeed.
And who will be under the most pressure? You guessed it, the managers responsible for those projects.
Right now our projects, and our project managers, need the help, support and guidance of a good PMO and a 'good' PMO has to be led by a 'good' PMO leader.
The good news is that PMOs are in demand.
In their 'The State of the PMO 2010' report PM Solutions stated that "The upward trend is unmistakable, both in sheer numbers of PMOs and in the rising organizational clout. In our 2000 research on 'The Value of Project Management', only 47% of companies had a project office. In 2006, our research on 'Project Management: The State of the Industry' showed that 77% of companies had PMOs; 'The State of the PMO 2010' research shows that 84% of companies have PMOs"
This is excellent news; it suggests the battle to establish the value of the PMO has, for the most part, been won.This book is therefore less about the business justification of a PMO and more about being the very best that you can be as a leader and a contributor to a successful PMO; making your PMO the one that really delivers.