Project Management

The PMO: An Organization’s 'Problem Child'?

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-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 [email protected]. Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

For the second successive year, I am privileged to be a part of the workshop series “Redefining the PMO” with Mark Price Perry. This year we are also joined by Dave Prior, who is providing some great insight on agile and PMOs. One of the things that comes up time and again during those events, and yet which still surprises me, is how many organizations are unsure what to do with their PMOs. The reasons for the uncertainty are many and varied, but there’s no getting away from the fact that there are a lot of PMOs out there operating without guidance, direction or (at times) purpose.

I don’t have time in these few paragraphs to go into detail on all of the topics covered in those two-day workshops (although I do encourage all of you to look into attending one of the upcoming events this year, they are great experiences for us all), but I do want to try and look into why so many PMO “problem children” exist.

The department without purpose
One of the recurring themes that I hear is that organizations don’t know what their PMO is supposed to achieve. This may be a case of the PMO’s evolution being unclear--uncertain what they want it to do when it grows up (to continue the child analogy), or it could simply be a case of the PMO being created to solve a particular problem that has either been addressed…

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