Authority and the PMO: A Non-PMO Perspective

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 Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

One of the things I love most about this profession is the fact that it can always surprise you. You may think you’ve got a good understanding of a topic, but then something comes up and it makes you think about an element of project management in a whole new way.

That’s what happened to me recently when I took part in an event looking at PMOs, specifically EPMOs. One of the sessions talked a lot about authority, in particular the appropriate authority that a PMO should have (what it has authority over, what level, etc.). Authority is not a word I’m that comfortable with; I prefer to think about “accountability for” rather than “authority over,” but they’re not quite the same, and at times authority is a more appropriate term.

That got me thinking a lot about the authority concept, and in particular how PMO authority is perceived in other areas of the organization. The more I thought about it, the more it seemed like a potential area of contention—and that makes it a topic I want to explore further.

I am sure you don’t need me to describe situations where a PMO has had a challenging relationship with other areas of the organization. I can’t help thinking that in many of those situations, the issue of authority was a factor in those challenges. If so, it’s on us as the PMO to resolve those problems,…

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"I respect a man who knows how to spell a word more than one way."

- Mark Twain