Projects and programs aren't for life. So as the home for project managers, projects and programs, should we not consider the project management office (PMO) in the same light?
A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)--Fourth Edition contrasts projects with operational work by stating, "operations are ongoing and repetitive."
Without an end goal, the PMO will become purely a home for operational activity. And if the PMO is only seen as the home of process (methodology) and the body of control (policing) then it will become as exciting as working in -- well, I better not be specific -- but I'm sure you understand what I'm getting at.
I'm not saying PMOs should only be around for a very short time. I'm merely suggesting that because of the nature of what they contain, PMOs must continue to evolve and ensure they're really creating value.
Anyone leading a PMO has a responsibility to consider the end game. We typically know what it is that we are trying to improve, resolve, correct and direct -- but I don't believe that this should be done in a way that creates a permanent need for the PMO.
What we must avoid is the deliberate removal of a subset of project management skills and the replacement of these skills within a permanent overhead community: a PMO. In other words, a PMO should not regularly take on any of the project management tasks. For example, PMO leaders shouldn't say, "We'll look after the risk management and you, project manager, deal with the rest of the project manager's tasks."
It is said that operations end when they stop delivering value, and projects end when they do deliver value. The PMO should aim to end when there is no longer a need for it to exist because it has delivered the value. And that lack of need should be engineered into its strategy.
What do you think? Are PMOs meant to last forever?