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The Success of a PMO Within an Organisation Print

There are many reasons one can associate to the success and or failure of PMO's, however I am going to explore the more obvious reasons ;

Factors strongly contributing can be listed; the skill of the head of the PMO, the role of the PMO within an organisation not forgetting the open and outward support of PMO.

Lets begin our exploration journey together, the beginning of the failure starts with the underestimation of the skill of a project manager, this in itself is an art form. A number of individuals feel that the attendance at some obscure project management diploma course entitles them to be 'qualified' in project management. Couple this with a win in delivering a 'project' for an organisation.

Organisations are inclined to promote individuals who have been seen to have delivered high profile projects within the organisation, it tends to been seen as a form of recognition. Roles which are likely to spring to mind is the Head of the PMO, surely not too much damage can be inflicted on the organisation within this capacity along with this individuals proven track record of successful project delivery, seems to be a win-win situation for both the organisation and the individual.

However with their limited knowledge of project management and their reluctance to accept this, these individuals go on to implement / manage PMO's and the story commences.

Figures are quoted frequently in many varied journals regarding the failure of IT projects, these figures are astronomically high. Looking a little bit deeper into this phenomenon one of the contributing factors is the skill of the PMO manager, (the guy that heads up and runs this office).

Asking the question, "What is the role of a PMO Manager ?" is the role that of a "Marketer" and "Seller" of the services of a PMO ?"

One of the key roles of the PMO manager is to guide and mentor the project / program managers within their daily activities; this must not be ridiculed and played down. With an experienced PMO Manager at the head of the helm, the experience this individual can bring to the table is immeasurable. One knows that the deeper you get yourself into the detail the harder it is to see the wood from the trees. Metaphorically speaking the same can be said for the PMO Manager who has a birds eye view across the organisation and an understanding of the current projects underway, leveraging this he can guide the PM from an outside neutral perspective. On most occasions if the PM was not so deep in the detail they too would have had the answer but with the emotion and the pressure on a project one tends to loose the big picture view. Hence the point I am alluding to is with a 'good' PMO manager success rates can be increased.

When one forgets what the role of a PMO manager is within an organisation, the role becomes some what diminished. Playing the role of a "Marketeer" is not a key outcome to the success of a PMO. The concept of a PMO should have been 'sold' way upfront, before the implementation of a PMO. Should this role need to continue, the successful selling of the PMO upfront was either not done correctly or the intention sold was not correct.

Without buy-in and support from senior executives within an organisation the success of a PMO cannot be guaranteed, the upward battle of the project managers and PMO manager selling a service to the organisation, which increases the cost of the delivery of a service, with the now added pm cost. Also incurring the additional governance which project management brings to the party, is seen to delay the time to market. How can a PMO possibly sell itself with the perception of these pitfalls associated to project management? Hence the critical need for executive support within the organisation allowing the PMO to play the intended role with the skill set which is required for the execution of projects and not for marketing of PMO's.

The art and skill of a project manager is not always understood along with the eternal belief that 'Tools' "maketh' a project manager. The tools that are available to a project manager such as methodologies and systems should be seen for what they are 'tools' and not the ability to execute a project.

In conclusion the role and skill of a PMO Manager within an organisation is critical to the success of the office and the sustainability.

Samantha Copeland (c) 2008

About the Author

Systems Integrator - Blue Chip Financial Institution - 10 yrs
Portfolio Manager - Telecommunication Company - 2 years
Program Manager - Global Project Rollouts - Mining Company - 2 yrs
PMO Manager - Petrochemical Company - 2yrs

PMP certified
Prince2 certified - Foundation and Practitioner
MComm - Majoring in Project Management

Comments (2)Add Comment
written by kelly, July 07, 2008
Thanks for this articles. please sir, base on your experience as an expert, what role does PMO and Project Portfolio Management play in IT industry ?.

For instance, i am a Software Developer aspiring to become IT project manager. How can PMO and Project Portfolio Management be useful to me ?
Thanks for the feedback
Remain Bless
written by jethro tull, June 10, 2008
who needs a pmo. I can do all the work myself, in half the time

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