In Part 1 of this series, we discussed what a PMO (Project Management Office) is and what benefits you gain from having one. Now, you may have more questions, such as: “Where does the PMO fit best within my organization’s structure?”, “Who should work in this new department?”, “What is the relationship between the PMO and the stakeholders?”, and “What are the expectations?” Read on for answers to these questions.
The Flexible PMO
Where the PMO fits into your company’s hierarchy is flexible and depends on the specific tasks that will be assigned to it. Those tasks, in turn, are based on the needs and characteristics of your company. Basically, there are three types of PMOs.
The Corporate Level (SPMO for Strategic PMO or PPMO for Project Portfolio Management Office) is responsible for:
Planning, prioritizing, and controlling all projects (PPM), setting standards and processes of project management, and working in close cooperation with management.
The Department and Program Level (Program Management Office) is responsible for:
Controlling projects, managing resources, and creating synergy effects between departments.
The Project Level (PO for Project Office) is responsible for:
Controlling and supporting activities, and working in close cooperation with project managers (this is only worthwhile for large projects).
As the strategic tasks of the PMO increase, PMOs usually land on the same level as operational planning and directly below senior management. The proximity to senior management makes sense because the PMO ultimately implements the company’s vision and mission-derived strategies and goals. (Source: PMI)
Who Works in the PMO?
The PMO director can be an internal employee or an external specialist, depending on his/her professional skills, as well as his/her experience, personality, soft skills, and career plan. The ideal person is often a senior project manager with a good relationship with project leaders and senior management.
Since there are few traditional training opportunities for PMO employees, it is especially important to staff this department with the right people. The question arises whether the team should consist of well-rounded employees or mutually complementary specialists. The best choice may be less experienced employees who understand project management. These candidates should be highly resilient, fast learners with great development potential. Knowledge about the processes can be learned by doing. (Source: PMI)
PMO Stakeholders and Their Expectations
The PMO is the central hub between senior management, department heads, resource managers, controllers, and project managers. All may have different expectations of the PMO.
Perform multi-project management
Organize and prepare the portfolio board with well-prepared data and scenarios for project portfolios
Directly solve minor resource conflicts and prepare decisions in the event of major resource conflicts
Increase visibility of project risks
Evaluate ongoing projects and results
Support project managers as much as possible
Increase the end quality of projects
Control resource requests and assign appropriate employees
Communicate the actual resource availability rather than the theoretical capacity
Prioritize projects according to company goals for optimal resource management
Provide the roadmap for the best possible management of long-term resource allocation
Control budget requests
Communicate up-to-date plan information for the budget calculations
Prioritize the projects according to the company’s objectives so that the budget can be reserved for the most important projects
Provide the roadmap for the best possible management of the long-term budget
Assign clear project assignments
Support project planning with best practices and current data
Approve changes, commit resources and budgets
Select appropriate tools and train employees to use the tools and methods
Coach and mentor new and current employees as needed
Prepare and conduct relevant meetings
PMOs and project managers usually have the most difficult relationship, since project managers are directly affected by the decisions and actions of the PMO. The PMO should reduce the burden on project managers as much as possible, imposing only a few bureaucratic obligations, as well as making clear the benefits of the necessary overhead.
The PMO needs to provide assistance and collaboration to other stakeholders when they have specific questions. Customers interact only indirectly with the PMO, as they are only interested in the results. They don’t often see how projects are completed, but they will notice if the PMO consistently provides good results.
If you have not had a PMO for a long time or are just thinking about introducing a PMO, this blog post has hopefully given you a good overview of the how the PMO and its roles function in an organization. For those who have an established PMO, it is worthwhile to carry out a stakeholder analysis and to record the different expectations. Only then will the PMO’s central responsibilities and areas of work become clear.