Considering how many people have had bad experiences with PMOs, it is not surprising if people are not in a rush to establish a PMO if one does not already exist in the organization. But there are many situations where a PMO can be helpful, and those situations should be understood. In a post for Project Management Tips, Charmin Patel discusses the core benefits of PMOs and when the right time is to build one.
Three Boons of the PMO
- Creates and implements consistent systems and processes
- Becomes an objective source of truth
- Introduces economies of scale
When projects lack standardized processes, it becomes more difficult for the business to track progress and receive updates on a reliable basis. The business is, in part, gambling on the ability of a project manager to guide and dictate all aspects of the project smoothly. A PMO can reduce the weight on a project manager, not just by standardizing procedures but by offering critical coordination support. This in turn increases the odds of project success and of delivering value to the business, which is the ultimate goal of any PMO.
Another benefit of PMOs is how they can become an objective source of truth in the business: If the only people directly reporting to PMOs are maybe the project managers themselves, the PMO has less incentive to pretty up harsh situations. The PMO wants stakeholders to know when things are going wrong so that the proper support can be mustered to course-correct. This transparency is critical to maintaining healthy projects.
Lastly, when the PMO is working in a portfolio management capacity, it can identify redundancies between projects. It can ensure that two teams are not working on different versions of the same solution, and that resources are being shared appropriately between teams. This saves time and money.
There are many more potential benefits to PMOs than that, such as creating tighter strategic alignment, but these are the three that Patel favors. He then continues to highlight three situations where it would probably be a good idea to introduce a PMO:
- Work is not getting out the door.
- It feels like every project is the first time you’ve done something like this.
- There is not a single group that knows what’s going on across the company.
These situations align in several respects with the benefits outlined above. Here is what Patel has to say about the second point:
Even though you may have done a particular type of project time and time again (for example, your company may create websites that require some amount of customization for a client) it feels like this is the first time you’ve ever done this type of project.
People are tripping over each other, necessary questions are not asked until it’s too late, or deliverables sit on a shelf somewhere, not getting worked on, while the department that should be doing the work is sitting on its hands. If it becomes a comedy of errors to get a project out the door, then it may be time to set up a project management office.
For some additional thoughts, you can view the original post here: http://pmtips.net/blog-new/why-do-you-need-a-project-management-office