What is a project management office?
Simply put, the project management office is the nexus that joins together projects. It acts as a focal point for reporting, documentation, guidance and governance. But there is much more to the PMO than this.
The project management office plays a crucial role in ensuring that project delivery continuously improves through:
- Providing the insights that enable leaders of change and sponsors to make informed decisions and lead effectively
- Defining and maintaining project standards
- Ensuring that lessons learned are captured and communicated
- Developing and coaching project managers
Importance of the project management office
Ultimately, the project management office should be a strategic function aligned to the business that is capable of increasing delivery certainty.
This can be broken down into three broad areas:
At its very foundation, a PMO is about enabling successful project delivery. It should provide clear and strong processes for the oversight of project delivery and project standards.
However, this does not mean ‘complicated’ and ‘time consuming’. In fact, the temptation to solve issues through adding more compliance processes and administrative overhead should be avoided where possible. The exception is where it is expedient to the successful delivery of projects with greater certainty and in line with overall business objectives.
Reporting should be handled in a similar manner. The goal is the provision of timely, relevant insights that enable good decision making. Consequently, from the steering committee down to the most junior PM, reports should include the information they need, in the manner they need it. And this important information should not be buried amongst extraneous data.
A good project management office understands this balancing act very well. They know that an over-engineered project management office can be just as detrimental to projects as an ill-prepared one.