You want to save money, increase team productivity, and ensure project success? You might consider setting up a project management office.
It is said that managing a difficult team of project managers is like herding cats.
Experienced project managers are well-versed in using project management software, soft skill, and sound planning to manage their kitties. But what do you do if your organization has grown so much that your fellow project managers need to be herded?
If your business is involved in multiple projects simultaneously, if there are more than one project manager, if multiple departments have requests for project management, if communication is a problem between project teams, and if project management training needs are centralized at your company, you might consider a project management office (PMO) upgrade.
Definition of a PMO
What is a PMO?
A project management office (PMO), is a group that oversees project management for multiple projects within an organization.
The easiest way to describe project management offices is: Project managers manage projects, and PMOs manage project mangers.
PMOs have existed almost as long as project managing itself or project portfolio management (the management and coordination of a variety of projects). It is likely that there was some central hub to coordinate the many components involved in large projects like the Great Pyramid or the Great Wall of China.
According to the Project Management Institute, the U.S. Army Air Corps was the first to create a PMO. It was used to oversee the development and testing of new aircraft such as the Boeing P-26 Peashooter or the Martin B-10 bomber. As more complex programs were developed, the U.S. military PMO evolved.
A PMI presentation about the evolution of the PMO was presented:
They oversaw the entire project system (e.g., missile), as well as its warhead, support equipment and launcher. Training and logistic support was also provided by them. This project office had key benefits: it centralized funding into work packages rather than separate components, improved budget predictions, facilitated a standard phased approach to planning, and identified non-strategic initiatives prior to fund allocation.
The rapid growth of computer technology and business software in the 1980s allowed for widespread adoption of PMOs within the private sector. Project management offices have been an integral part of large-scale operations that have multiple ongoing projects and span departments.
“Organizations began to look for better ways to manage their increasing number of projects, which can lead to compromised performance (e.g. delays, cost overruns and falling short of specifications), and to ask if their projects should either be run in isolation or in a coordinated manner to improve resource utilization and avoid cross-project conflicts.
PMOs may use documentation such the Project Management Body of Knowledge, (PMBOK), to maintain standards and to provide reference material for dealing with unprecedented issues.
The structure and makeup of each PMO varies depending on the size and complexity of an organization. However, every PMO should share a common goal: to facilitate project management within an organization.
What is a PMO and why do I need one?
Project management offices, like a helipad and public stock offerings, may seem exclusive to large corporations. They are not.
PM Solutions research has found that 85% of organizations have a Project Management Office (PMO).