Updated: Aug 29, 2021
When I tell friends that I work in a PMO, their first question is always “what is a PMO?”. For those not familiar with what a PMO is (or more commonly, what a PMO does or should do) then keep reading!
What is a PMO?
PMO stands for Project Management Office. The PMO is staffed by experienced project managers who are not generally tasked with managing projects themselves but for helping the organization and the organization’s PM team with project delivery. Essentially, the PMO can be considered the ‘guardrails’ for your project delivery team who not only supply the project delivery framework but also help project managers keep their projects on track and successful. Here’s some highlights of what a PMO’s role is in an organization. In general terms, the PMO is tasked with ensuring the highest level of consistency and predictability of your projects.
Own the Methodology
This is the primary directive of a PMO with most everything else being under this umbrella. The PMO owns the delivery methodology for the organization and with that all the other elements that go along with the methodology. As your products, technology and industry evolves it’s up to the PMO to ensure that the delivery methodology stays current to ensure maximum efficiency and effectiveness of delivery. Some key tasks that the PMO will do for this is to ensure that methodology documentation is always up to date, that project managers (and team members) are trained in the methodology and are aware of how your projects are to be delivered.
Templates, templates, and more templates
What is a methodology without templates? The PMO is responsible for ensuring the consistency of templates for all project artifacts to enable the project teams to not only get a jump on building out their project deliverables but also make sure that the end products are consistent and do not accidentally omit anything. Things like project plans, charters, communication plans, draft schedules are all examples of items that absolutely need to be templated for the simple fact of ensuring that the level of predictability with your projects across your portfolio is as high as possible.
The PMO is not just about methodology and templates but also about working with the team of project managers to make sure that standards are being followed, that there is that consistency across projects and that your projects are being delivered in an expected and predictable manner. There will be times when a project goes off the rails where the project manager will need support and guidance from the executive team but also the PMO. The executive team can help from a relationship management and contractual support perspective but the PMO will assist in ensuring that the project team is following the right steps to get the project back on track.
PMO’s are there to help establish and ensure consistency across projects. By having them in your organization you are giving your project management team a formidable tool in ensuring that your projects are done right and done (mostly) the same way each time.