What are the eight possible functions of a project or program management office?
In the previous article we established:
- The PMO, typically, is for the organization and not for one project or program
- The PMO, typically, is an organizational unit
- Not all PMO are the same
- PMO typically stands for Project Management Office or Program Management Office
Today we add
- A PMO may consists of as little as two team members or many more
- Many organizations could have a PMO but they do not call it PMO; they might use the terms Project Management Unit or Department; or other terms. For the purpose of this article we will consider these as PMO
As we said before, the topic is quite open and there are many variations. We present our views on roles and functions of PMO via the SUKAD PMO Continuum. We also cover these topics in a learning program that we offer under the title Building the Program Management Office.
The PMO Continuum is the way that we (at SUKAD) represent the various functions and roles (focus) of PMO within an organization. What we present below is likely to be in a logical order but since not all organizations are alike, the order we present below is not likely the sequence that all organizations follow.
One: Passive Reporting
The most basic form and role of a PMO could be what we might call ‘Reporting PMO’. This PMO would be responsible for collecting reports from the various projects and programs, collating and summarizing them, then forward a summary report to the organizational management for review.
Two: Active Reporting
Ideally, one could present that since the PMO is responsible for reporting, then the PMO should also standardize the reports used by the projects and programs. Therefore, an active reporting PMO is a PMO that would establish standard guidelines for the project managers on the various required reports.
Three: Training Support
If an organization starts to empower their PMO beyond the basic functions, then the PMO could be responsible for reporting, in addition to training and development of project management personnel. The idea here is not for the PMO to replace Human Resources or Learning & Development but for the PMO to work with Learning & Development to recommend the right professional learning programs for the organization staff in the domain of project management.
Four: Career Management
The next logical level could be for the PMO to assume responsibility for career management.
In this case, establish formal job descriptions and career paths for project management personnel across the organization. This include a professional development program that include mentoring and coaching program.
Five: Project Coordination
In some organizations, the PMO might handle coordination of all or some of the organization projects. The focus here is not on managing the projects but possibly coordinate between projects and manage the interfaces.
Six: Project Management System
One of the most important functions of a PMO, in our humble opinion, is for the PMO to assume responsibility for the project management system in the company. Basically, establish the right project management methodology and processes such as: how to approve projects, how to launch or initiate projects, how to plan for projects, and how to manage and control projects. A project management system also includes the proper project life span model, definitions of project stages and stage gates, and lessons learned system.
The PMO should also assume responsibility for the historical databases (maybe included in reporting) and records for projects? What are the Performance Metrics for projects?
Some readers might argue, “what you describe here is given” all PMOs must be doing this, are not they?” Unfortunately no.
Seven: Managing Projects and Programs
In certain organizations, the PMO could also be the project management functional home for the career project managers and project management personnel. When there is a project, the organization will pull the project manager from the PMO and other project resources and team members will come from the other functional department. For those who have good knowledge in project management organizational structure this is what we call strong matrix organization.
Eight: Strategic Project Management
This eighth possible function will be the subject of a separate article.
Some questions for you
- Do you agree with some (or all) of what we share here?
- If you have different view, please let us hear from you
- If you are in a PMO or have expertise in this area – what are some of the challenges and opportunities that you have encountered?
- Do you think PMOs are important or just a fad / trend?
Next week in Beirut, Lebanon we will be presenting on some of the challenges we have observed in relation to PMO and PMO implementation project and the organizational gaps in project management practices that remains even after implementing a PMO. The event, Closing the Gaps: Project Management Maturity, will address these gaps and how to close using a maturity model. If you are in Lebanon, please join us. If you are not, we will write an article about the event and include the presentation for downloads.