Setting up a Project Management Office (PMO) is a pretty big task. It involves restructuring your company, or at least some of it, in order to take advantage of the benefits of bringing together the project management professionals in your business. So you need to go into it with open eyes, and cognizant of the fact that it involves a change of mindset as well as new boxes on the organization chart.
So is it worth it? We think so. There are a wide range of PMO roles and responsibilities, and there is a wide range of benefits to match. Here are 5 of the most common reasons why it’s great to set up a PMO.
A major reason to have a PMO is to bring standardization to what could be a very fragmented discipline within your organization. We see many companies where each department has its own project managers, all working to slightly different methodologies and processes. There are few shared documents and if you wanted to compare performance, you’d struggle.
Bringing all project activity under the umbrella of the PMO means that you can introduce standardization. Not only does this save time, it also makes it easier to collect data, which brings us to Reason #2.
With a standard approach to managing and tracking projects you can collect standard data sets. These give you the option to compare projects, bundle them together, share resources more effectively and report in a standard way that anyone can understand.
Company-wide project data is really valuable, and is often the first benefit that organizations see when they move to a corporate PMO. Everything that’s produced gives you data for decision making, helping executives see the bigger picture.
Data collected by the PMO will quickly be seen as the single source of the ‘truth’ and come to be a trusted measure for projects within the business. This offers a great deal of value to executives who have previously had to struggle to reconcile different sources of information that might be telling slightly different stories.
3. Quality Checks
The Project Management Office functions should also include a QA role. Quality Assurance can take many forms but the easiest to get started with are peer reviews. These are where a project manager reviews another team’s project. The two project managers can share experiences and the project being reviewed receives a friendly challenge when something doesn’t look quite right. It’s relatively straightforward to put peer reviews into the culture of a PMO function by making it part of your standard processes for moving to a new phase of the project or before a major milestone such as the completion of testing.
You can also take it further by adding in quality and audit functions to your PMO. You can set any criteria for quality checks, but generally you’d be measuring the performance of a project against the quality measures set for it during project initiation.
Audits are more formal and are normally carried out by a PMO professional. They generally look for compliance with processes and performance data, such as how well the project is doing against budget and time targets.
What’s the benefit of all this? The oversight offered by formal and informal governance in this way lets you spot problem projects early so you can do something about them. If quality checking is part of the PMO function, you should expect to see issues earlier and have fewer projects ultimately fail to meet their objectives.
4. Training and Mentoring
One of the PMO roles is to look after the people who are working on projects in the business. This can be done through:
The PMO should be the ‘guardian’ of the career paths associated with the PMO (you can read more about career paths for PMO professionals here). The PMO can also help develop leadership talent by offering tools and support using “360 Assessment” tools that help people develop and hone the soft skills of project management.
Having a central function responsible for doing this means that you can support and develop your talented project managers in-house. As a result, you’ll have better rates of staff retention, happier project teams and better productivity. That alone is enough of a reason to bring project staff development under the wing of the PMO but you’ll also see an improvement in knowledge sharing and transfer between project professionals as well.
5. Strategic Alignment
This last one is arguably the most important. The real benefits of a PMO come when you are able to make the right decisions around project selection, choosing the initiatives that will bring the most benefit for the company. To do this, your PMO needs to be aligned to the business strategically.
When this alignment is in place and works well, you’ll be able to prioritize work based on clear strategic objectives, not on who shouts the loudest.
There are lots of reasons to set up a PMO, and you might be considering other benefits that didn’t make our short list. Ultimately, the decision around PMO implementation is yours, but we believe that the vast majority of companies would benefit from a central, strategic outlook when it comes to managing projects, whether you are big or small.