I’m sure you, like me, have come across many PMOs that are seen by project managers as an irritation and an inconvenience. They are perceived as admin functions chasing timesheets and project highlight reports.
The PMO has a lot of value to add but unfortunately, they often do not have adequate support from senior management and are often staffed with junior resources.
A PMO should be able to deliver a lot of benefits to the organisation. To add value they need to have the right operating model, the right sponsorship, and the right level of resources in terms of experience and skills.
Here are some of the ways that a proper functioning PMO can deliver value:
If you look at these benefits that a properly functioning PMO can offer, they are compelling. Some organisations balk at the cost of staffing the PMO with senior experienced personnel; they see this as an expensive overhead.
The PMO cost is typically a very small percentage of the total cost of the portfolio and an even smaller percentage of the portfolio benefits.
If a PMO is able to stop failing projects early and keep projects on track to deliver the organizational benefits, then the business case of a PMO with experienced staff is compelling.
Having experienced people in the PMO is only one part; they also need to have teeth and the support of senior management. If project managers do not take notice of the PMO then you have failed.
To have a PMO to deliver the real value you need to have a PMO with attitude. A PMO with attitude is one where project managers understand that the PMO has the power to stop projects, withdraw funding and highlight poorly performing project managers.
To have an attitude you need to have the right level of staff and the support of senior management. The PMO needs to be staffed with experienced project and programme managers.
If you combine this with the right sponsorship and right operating model, the PMO can start to deliver real value. Staffing a PMO with junior people is a false economy.