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Structuring an Effective PMO – Providing Guidance

Updated: Dec 2, 2021

One of the most important jobs of a PMO is to provide guidance to the team of project managers in the organization. The PMO will (should) be staffed by an individual (or group of individuals) who not only have a strong project management background but also know the organization and their delivery methods. The primary function of a PMO should be to bring consistency and predictability to the projects of the organization. Let’s dive into how a PMO should be providing guidance to your project managers.

When to Guide & When to Restrict

The PMO exists to help project managers move their projects forward and to provide a set of virtual guardrails for the project so that it stays out of trouble. Some of the best organizations at running projects are those who allow project managers the autonomy to run their projects how they see fit but within the constructs of the organizational methodology. Finding the balance between guidance and restriction can be a challenge but by allowing project managers the (earned) latitude to make project decisions you are enabling the smart people that you pay project manager salaries to, to make the decisions needed to move your projects forward in a meaningful way.

However, there will be times where the PMO will need to step in to help a project manager to make those right decisions that may not be being made already. This is where the PMO will need to take a firmer hold of the project and work closer with the project manager to ensure that the project is being executed in a way that the PMO sees as the best path forward. These situations will necessitate the PMO providing more restrictions than guidance. Situations like these are hopefully the exception rather than the norm but your PMO must be equipped to effectively jump into a project to not only provide guidance to the project manager but also take control and effectively start executing on the project itself.

Constant Training

Another function of the PMO is to make sure that your project managers are always adequately trained. No matter the experience level of a project manager when they are hired there are always going to be things that require training that are more organization specific. From how projects are resourced to methodology specifics to organizational culture, there is never a shortage of items that even the most experienced project managers can be trained on by the PMO.

PMO’s exist so that project managers can do their job more effectively. Sometimes the PMO will be there to keep projects (and project managers) from going off the road and sometimes they are there to steer the car (hopefully that’s the rarity).


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