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Are you an industry leader who is accountable for significant projects, wants successful project outcomes and is passionate about adding value to your organization? Then, this article is a must for you.

A value driven project management office (PMO) is a strategic component of an organization trying to improve its ability to deliver projects that bring value to the organization. The PMO mandate and sponsorship should be set – no minimum than at senior management level or – at executive level. It should be a Project Management Center of Excellence (PMCoE).

PMOs have different variations (portfolio, program or project management office), with the aim of driving excellence in area of governance, delivery assurance, change management, strategic alignment, reporting or — at a most-basic rudimentary level — just paper pushing.

PMOs can provide services to the whole organization (Enterprise PMO), or to business units i.e. IT, operations et al, or to specific projects or programs.

We see so many organizations with good intentions investing millions of dollars in setting up teams of people in a PMO with the hope of ensuring successful program and project outcomes. How many times have we seen these PMOs fail and subsequently, get disbanded? Most especially after a major project failure or re-organization, the chimes in everyone’s mouth is “why didn’t the PMO save the project?” and “what value is this team really bringing to the organization?”

The question to ask is does your PMO mandate match the level of authority and influence on projects? Also, is your PMO’s mandate supported and clearly documented? Furthermore, can the PMO team articulate what success should look like for the various programs and projects?  Does management even know what they want from the PMO?

From the very start, some projects shouldn’t even be sanctioned and kicked off. Does your PMO have a sit at the table when the decisions are being made during the project selection process? There needs to be an understanding of the level of authority and influence of your PMO organization. Is your PMO’s mandate to play one or more of the functions below?

  • Supporting: Provides services to project managers
  • Controlling: Enforces compliance of existing methods and standards
  • Directing: Directs the work to be executed based on strategic and tactical plans
  • Consulting: Serves as an experience-based consultative body to project managers
  • Project Repository services: Repository of previous project documentation, lessons learned, etc.
  • Strategic & Strategizing: for the whole organization operating at an enterprise level. Creates the standards methodologies and tools for projects. Has the ability to stop and start projects, audit projects and recommend preventive or corrective actions. Enforcing corrective action. The PMO here has great influence on projects. It’s important to note that this is ideally the PMO that organizations get the greatest value from.

Back to the question above, does your PMO’s level of influence and authority match up with its mandate?

For instance, where a PMO is meant to be just supportive with little or no authority but asked to police projects or even enforce compliance, it is more than certain the PMO will experience a lot of push back.

One key area that the PMO adds tremendous value is reporting. Access to accurate information a single source of truth — available at fingertips — is critical in making informed decisions. An extra set of eyes overseeing the project and not just taking the status reports from the project  on cost, schedule and quality has “green” to be hit later by some unexpected major change is key.  Those crucial “extra pair of eyes” underscores the value a good PMO brings to the organization, one that can be said to be priceless!

We have to ask, does the project deliver the business benefits as promised? Leveraging the PMO on portfolios, programs and projects adds a higher probability of success to project’s outcomes which goes beyond delivering on time, on budget to the agreed quality standards but also, ensures business benefits are delivered.  This can only be determined after the end product or service has been delivered. #Value Driven PMO.

What challenges have you faced as a PMO professional?  Kindy share and lets work strategically and strive for a value driven PMO (PMCoE). Share and pass on to someone you think will benefit for this article.

Written by: Fola Alabi