Project Management

It's About Leadership

Mark Mullaly is president of Interthink Consulting Incorporated, an organizational development and change firm specializing in the creation of effective organizational project management solutions. Since 1990, it has worked with companies throughout North America to develop, enhance and implement effective project management tools, processes, structures and capabilities. Mark was most recently co-lead investigator of the Value of Project Management research project sponsored by PMI. You can read more of his writing at

A reviewer of a recent column regarding the role of PMOs in conducting project audits made an interesting comment. In essence, his observation was that the role of the PMO itself was outdated, wrapped up as they are in Gantt charts, timelines and earned value. What emerges as the dominant theme of this perspective is that the entire essence of the PMO can be distilled to reporting and numbers. The PMO becomes the accounting department of the project universe.

Undoubtedly, and unfortunately, for some organizations this is probably true. The PMO is an office of analysts whose function is to harass the project managers at month-end for their status reports so that they can translate them into another set of reports to forward to the same audience, where they will perhaps receive about as much attention.

Where this is truly the case, not only is the PMO probably not providing value, but they are also more than likely reducing the effectiveness of the organization in delivering their projects. As I have emphasized in numerous previous columns, the focus of any successful PMO must be on the unique value that they provide--and more importantly, create--in the organization. Value is rarely created through simply distilling one set of numbers into another.

For many other organizations where the PMO does provide value, there is still a reporting function in place. Status reports…

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