There are many good reasons to establish a PMO, particularly within mid to large sized organizations with rising project volume and complexity. It is critically important that an organization properly tracks all the processes, changes, conflicts, risks and decisions associated with these projects.
Because senior management and department heads are usually occupied with other critical business activities and project managers look after their own projects, it is necessary to have someone accountable for the job of multi-project management.
Definition of a PMO
While each PMO is unique and has different powers, responsibilities and focus, in general, a PMO is defined as a permanent organizational unit responsible for the centralized and coordinated management of all projects. Possible tasks include the planning of the project portfolio, the development of project standards and project management strategies, the training of the project staff, and the monitoring and direct support of individual projects.
The PMO’s Function
A PMO is responsible for coordinating all the strategic projects, understanding the company strategy, and making certain that both go hand in hand. Nevertheless, the specific application areas of a PMO vary greatly from company to company. There are no “standard or typical” PMO task lists, but some may include:
- Gathering the project portfolio by classifying, selecting, and facilitating the prioritization of projects based on the organization’s strategy and available resources, preparing decision-making, and facilitating decision-making for the portfolio board;
- Organizing resources at the portfolio-level and helping to resolve resource conflicts;
- Maintaining up to date employee data, especially in terms of capacity, project allocations and skills;
- Standardizing methods and processes in project management;
- Selecting, implementing and training employees on applicable tools and software;
- Fostering transparency of current and planned projects through up-to-date, reliable project data;
- Promoting information flow and communication;
- Establishing a knowledge base with Lessons Learned and Best Practices from past projects to avoid repeat errors;
- Monitoring project progress and controlling the dependencies that affect resources, budgets, and schedules (project portfolio tracking);
- Coaching project leaders and stakeholders; and
- Providing administrative and operational support for project managers and project teams (e.g., conflict management, workshop moderation, etc.).
Benefits of a PMO
PMOs can be very effective tools in helping an organization steer its path forward. The benefits include:
- A successful project portfolio that focuses on resource availability and corporate strategy;
- A unified project approach enabling economies of scale and an organization-wide standardized usage of software;
- Freeing up the time and energy of project leaders and project teams, so they can focus on critical operational tasks;
- Better communication across projects and across the entire organization;
- Effective transfer of knowledge, applying best practices and minimizing errors; and
- Optimized project efficiency, increased project quality and reduced project risk.
With a PMO you can align more projects to the corporate objectives. With the assistance of a PMO, these projects can be carried out within budget and utilizing available resource capacity. This means that the cost per project decreases and the probability of project success is much higher. While the benefits of a PMO may be difficult to envision at first, the medium to long-term value of established, high-functioning PMOs has been substantiated by organizations globally.
The Litcom Approach
Quite often an organization will have the functional and technical resources necessary to establish and operate a PMO, but not the project management resources required to execute delivery of the PMO function. Litcom has the combination of resources, methodology, and assets ready to help you establish and operate an effective PMO with unbiased oversight and project transparency. For more information on how Litcom can help with your PMO needs, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org