A Few Dos and Don’ts to Maximize PMO Efficiency

Take a look at your company’s Project Management Office(s). How effective is it? It seems like a simple and logical question – in fact it seems like the most pertinent question. Yet many companies that utilize this management system have no real answer to the question – only an estimate based on the performance of individual projects and the business as a whole. Some see PMO’s as redundant; needless overhead doing work that should be handled by each project manager. But as a company grows and its projects become more numerous and varied in purpose, it increasingly becomes clear that coordinating them all can be tricky to say the least. Establishing an effective PMO is a matter of proper definition, resource allocation, and evaluation. Here are a few tips to make sure your company’s PMO is reaching its potential.

    Do: Define the role and duties of your PMO

    A PMO can do many things, but no PMO can do everything. Defining what the role of the PMO is and how it will function in the organization is critical in both maximizing its effectiveness and evaluating its success. In a smaller organization, the role of the PMO may be limited to evaluating the performance of individual projects and making recommendations. In most companies, the role of the PMO is ensuring proper procedure and standards in every project by establishing them on a company-wide scale. With proper definition, everyone from the CEO to clients should be able to know the purpose of the PMO. TechRepublic has published an in-depth guide to properly defining and utilizing a PMO, including a breakdown of eight core components of a successful PMO.

    Don’t: Cut your PMO short on resources and ability

    The most effective PMO’s are Enterprise PMO’s – reaching company-wide to all projects. Having this full influence means that the EMPO can create a streamlined, coordinated system of management and implementation for every project within the company. Of course, building such a PMO requires proper funding and proper staffing. Charging a single management employee with the responsibility of overseeing and coordinating all projects of a large company is a sure way to hinder the PMO’s potential for success. A 2009 Planview survey found that the effectiveness of a PMO was drastically lower for those with a staff size lower than four people. Those companies that reported their PMO was among the most effective surveyed averaged a PMO staff size of 10-11 people. Of course this will scale to the size of the company, but the lesson is that the more staff and resources invested into the PMO, the more effective and influential in the company’s success it will be.

    Do: Evaluate!

    Without any form of evaluation, there is no way to really know whether the PMO is properly influencing projects and the company as it should be. Companies that rely on established methodologies such as PMBOK and PRINCE2 tend to avoid this pitfall over companies that utilize their own methodologies. While adopting one of these or another established methodology is of course not necessary for success, it does suggest that internally-developed methodologies must be carefully scrutinized to ensure proper implementation and proper evaluation.