How Many PMOs Do You Need?

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting Inc., an Ontario, Canada-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 andy.jordan@roffensian.com. Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

Sometimes it seems as though the words “it depends” are designed to frustrate and annoy. (Any project manager who has asked a team member whether they are going to be able to finish their task on time knows exactly what I mean!) Yet I find myself often using those words when I am asked by organizations what their PMO structure should look like.

I really don’t think there is a single “right” way to structure PMOs in an organization; the right model really does depend on a number of different factors. However, if I’m going to use that response, I need to be prepared to back it up with at least an exploration of those factors that impact how PMOs are created, distributed and run across an organization—and that’s what I want to look at in this article.

The EPMO
Let’s start with one of the more popular trends of recent years, the enterprise PMO or EPMO. In theory, this is a fine concept—and I think it can be tremendously successful, but it shouldn’t be seen as the only PMO an organization needs. Here’s why: Some EPMOs were set up as an exercise in economies of scale—create a single, central PMO and you can eliminate the cost of multiple PMO leaders spread throughout the organization, and likely also effect some cost reductions through consolidation of many functions within that EPMO. The problem is …

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