Project Management

From IT to Business-Driven PMO

Michael R. Wood is a Business Process Improvement & IT Strategist Independent Consultant. He is creator of the business process-improvement methodology called HELIX and founder of The Natural Intelligence Group, a strategy, process improvement and technology consulting company. He is also a CPA, has served as an Adjunct Professor in Pepperdine's Management MBA program, an Associate Professor at California Lutheran University, and on the boards of numerous professional organizations. Mr. Wood is a sought after presenter of HELIX workshops and seminars in both the U.S. and Europe.

For many organizations, PMOs begin as IT PMOs. Exactly why PMOs so often start with an IT focus depends on a lot of factors. However, I believe it boils down to two major factors: First, in most organizations, IT groups are perceived to have more experience than the rest of the organization in managing projects; the second (and most influential factor) is that most projects that are operationally focused have a large IT component, and thus are viewed as IT projects.

The truth is that few IT organizations, especially in small to mid-sized companies, have little or no formal project management expertise. Thus, the person with the most subject matter knowledge related to the project usually takes responsibility for managing the project. This usually results in an effort that is technology (not business) focused, with little thought given to how the end results align with the business--or integrates with work processes or the needs of the operation. Instead, the focus shifts to vendor management, application features development and infrastructure.

If the organization is to ever realize the value a PMO can deliver, it needs to think outside the IT PMO box and become a business-driven PMO--one that is driven by the strategic goals and objectives of the organization. When this happens, the types of projects pursued changes, the impact of projects are more dramatic and the …


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