Project Management Offices are all about tracking, right?
Well, not really.
While supporting teams to track individual projects and monitoring the health of the portfolio overall are key services that the PMO can offer your exec team, that’s not where their work ends.
Here are 7 ways that your PMO can go further and support the business overall with a range of specialist services.
1. Promoting Best Practice
Why would you want to do this? Surely everyone knows what to do?
Actually, you’d be surprised at how often it’s important to refresh the skills of your team. People get promoted into new roles, new starters join the company and knowledge leaves with those who retire or move on. You can’t rely on new employees to magically pick up what they need to know and having a solid foundation of best practice is the fastest way to improve project management maturity across your organization.
And someone needs to own those processes.
Plus: best practice changes. You get better. You introduce new processes. Your team needs to know these things.
2. Helping People Implement What They Learned On A Course
One of the biggest challenges for managers is how to support team members who are returning to work after a short course. How do you ensure that new knowledge is transferred into workplace practice and doesn’t just stay as theory?
Your PMO can support here by working with your project professionals to establish what the course covered and how best it can be implemented in the office. The extra benefit here is that the knowledge can then be shared far more widely than the one person who attended the course, delivering a greater return on investment for the training time.
3. Benefits Appraisal
An impartial team looking at business cases and providing oversight, challenge and support? Yes please.
Benefits appraisal for new projects is tough. Drawing on the specialist skills of people who have seen a lot of business cases and plotted out the benefits realization approaches for many projects is a definite advantage. You’ll get a far more accurate, considered benefits appraisal than if you left it to the project initiator who possibly has never prepared a business case before in their career.
Using the PMO to support project sponsors here gives your execs far greater transparency over what the real benefits of new project are likely to be.
While we’re on the topic of business cases and appraisals, your PMO can also provide expert specialist support for investment appraisals and business case creation.
4. Culture Development
Having a culture of project management is a huge advantage in the maturity stakes. In a business where everyone thinks first of the business case and project initiation steps, you’re going to win at always choosing the right work to do.
The PMO can support the creation and establishment, and then the ongoing maintenance of a culture of project management. This can be achieved by:
- Gaining and maintain executive support
- Aligning the work of the project teams and PMO to organizational strategy
- Working to make best practices second nature and ‘the way we do things around here’
- Owning the processes
- Developing a learning culture that supports continuous improvement
- Simplifying project management for those who aren’t directly involved every day, so it doesn’t become something that only the project professionals do.
Another way to improve the project management culture is to ensure that there is an active lessons learned process. The PMO can use their cross-team knowledge to analyze the lessons learned, seek out generic improvements and make process tweaks to ensure that the whole company benefits from the organizational knowledge gained.
5. Evaluating Staff Performance
Project sponsors aren’t always equipped to support line managers during staff appraisal time. Even if your project managers don’t report into the PMO, that team has worked closely with them over the year and can provide support to the process.
6. Building Project Management Competence
As specialist services go, this is one of the best to get started with. The PMO can manage a log of staff competencies, and develop a gap analysis for each project manager. This forms the basis of a training and development plan.
Line managers don’t always have the time to do this, or the ability to see the development needs of a whole community to seek out opportunities for training that would serve the whole team effectively. When this is managed by the PMO it’s easier to see where the gaps are across project management competence and to develop a plan to address them.
The support here can even extend to recruitment if you notice there are significant gaps.
7. Technical Services
We’ve bundled together a number of technical specialist services here because these are something that the PMO can offer to project teams and execs if the business uses them. Your PMO is often packed with people who love going deep into a subject or who have substantial domain knowledge in a particular area. Tap into that and get them supporting the project community as a whole.
Examples of these technical specialist skills include:
- Earned value
- Estimating and modelling, like Monte Carlo analysis (where the PMO can hold and run the models)
- Risk management
- Using project management software tools like Primavera
The PMO is so much more than just a tracking and monitoring function, and what it can do for your business goes far beyond pretty dashboards for portfolio reporting. The most successful PMOs will hold their project managers to account but also provide a sympathetic ear. A supportive, specialist PMO can save your team members a lot of time and boost project management maturity considerably.