the value of the PMO

a little background for PMOs

PMOs are becoming increasingly common in today's organisations and the most confusing thing is that they come in all different shapes and sizes and it is difficult to establish a true standard.

The PMI have been trying to get to grips with this for some time and still cannot get consensus on what a standard could and should consist of. The UK Cabinet Office have released a useful document called Portfolio, Programme and Project Offices P30, which is an excellent reference for the different types of PMOs.

Irrespective of any formal consensus about PMOs, there is a general understanding that PMOs provide structure, methodology, process, tools and specific skills to assist with both project and program delivery with the objective of providing professional support and enhanced opportunity for success.

about PMOs' skills and values

We should be clear that the skills required to be a successful PMO manager are different to those of a project and program manager and this is important to remember when staffing a PMO. Ensuring the correct skillset in each of the PMO roles will significantly enhance the performance of the PMO and gain better appreciation by project and program managers who are dependent on the PMO providing accurate and timely information such that appropriate management decisions can be made.

The PMO is often seen as a liaison between the project & program teams and upper management and so effective communications in both directions is essential.

One of the many values a PMO brings to an organisation is to provide a consistent approach for project and program support. Irrespective of the size and complexity of each project/program, a consistent and repeatable approach allows those involved to be able to adapt more easily, transfer to new projects/programs with ease and anticipate future activities more accurately, which should reduce overhead and expedite delivery more speedily.

A PMO like any business unit can, over time, grow to become a lumbering organisation that has fallen out of line with the current business requirements. It is important for senior management that PMOs justify their existence and provide a cost effective value added service as in most cases they are a company overhead. It is critical that the PMO manager, or those with management control regularly adjust staffing levels and skills to be a lean and effective organisation that delivers real value to its customers.

I don't think PMOs will be going away from some time to come so its important for businesses to develop and maintain these skills to assist with the delivery of the various project and program portfolios, which should ensure the company's strategic objectives are met.


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Ian Templeton

Project and program management is at the heart of any successful business as it enables businesses to change by delivering new capabilities and realizing benefits in line with the organization's strategic objectives. I am passionate about project and program management and love discussing it and developing improved ways of doing things.