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.jordan@roffensian.com. 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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