Who Should Lead the PMO?

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting Inc., an Ontario, Canada-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at andy.jordan@roffensian.com. Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

We all know that there are many different models for PMOs--different functions, different reporting structures, different organizational alignments, etc. There is no perfect model for a PMO, but is there a perfect model for a PMO leader? In this article I want to try and build a profile for a PMO leader, look at how different strengths and opportunities affect the PMO and match skills with structures. Just like their are multiple successful PMO models, there is no single right model for a leader--but there are some common themes.

Subject matter expert or skills expert?
There’s an age-old debate in project management about whether you need to be a subject matter expert on the type of project that’s being undertaken--do you need to be an IT expert to manage IT projects, for example? I’ve got plenty of opinions on that, but that’s a different article. In PMO circles, I think that the issue is clearer--the PMO is about project management, and that’s where the expertise should be, not in the specific discipline that the projects are about. In some cases, this might be obvious--in a company-wide PMO there is unlikely to be a “discipline expert” because every discipline is covered, but that’s not always the case.

I have seen a large number of PMOs that were established in functional areas, particularly in IT. In many cases, …

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