In Pursuit of the Perfectly Defined PMO

PMI Delaware Valley Chapter

Laura Dallas Burford is the founder of LAD Enterprizes, a management consulting firm that partners with consultants as well as internal and external consulting organizations to successfully build the operational and delivery aspects of their practices. Laura appreciates feedback on her articles and can be reached at She is the author of Project Management for Flat Organizations.

It is 8:30 Monday morning, and Joe anticipates a slow day. That is, until he sees an email in his inbox with “Emergency Meeting—Monday 2PM” in the subject line. Joe’s heart sinks at the topic: new project management direction.

At 2 p.m., the CIO walks into the conference room and immediately spurts out, “We need to build a Project Management Office. Joe, can you take the lead and let me know what you need?” Joe hesitates because he has only worked within one PMO structure and has limited PMO knowledge. He meekly responses “Yes.”

Hopefully, Joe starts asking questions such as, “We need a PMO because…?” Hopefully, the CIO articulates management’s vision and needs, such as improving overall organizational performance; improving internal as well as external customer satisfaction; ensuring projects initiated tie to the strategy; or reducing costs while increasing operational efficiencies. Hopefully, Joe and the CIO discuss their working relationship, including Joe’s experience level and other PMO management stakeholders.

Now Joe is positioned to start gathering the requirements in four key classifications: type of PMO, high-level functionality, categories and transition.

The term “PMO” means different things to different people, leaving room for interpretation. According …

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