Project Management

Have We Reached Peak PMO?

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 markmullaly.com.

I have been involved with, responsible for, victimized by and writing about PMOs for more than 20 years. In that time, we have failed to agree on what a PMO is, what it is responsible for and what value it should deliver. Project managers, executives and PMO staff themselves question the worth of PMOs. The average lifespan of a PMO from inception to demise is approximately two years. That raises numerous questions regarding the purpose and relevance of PMOs. Those questions, however, can probably summed up with one general one: Have we reached peak PMO?

PMOs as implemented come in numerous shapes, sizes and flavors. Some are responsible for developing and promoting the project management methodologies and practices to be used within the organization (and many of these also fall into a policing role of ensuring processes actually get used). Others take on a monitoring and reporting function, providing consistent and centralized reporting of project progress and status based upon collected inputs from project teams. A significant number assume direct responsibility for the management and delivery of projects of the organization.

Regardless of the actual purpose or structure, the following statements are universally true: they are service organizations; they are in the business of serving their customers; and they need to be seen to be delivering value to their …


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