Dear PMO...Why Do You Exist?

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.

Some of the most entertaining conversations I have in my professional life are about PMOs. It doesn’t seem to matter how much I prattle on about the importance of having a PMO with a clearly defined purpose, or about how a PMO is a business department just like any other. There never seems to be any shortage of executives reaching out to me exasperated that they have no idea what value they are getting from their PMO; and there never seems to be any shortage of PMO leaders wanting advice because their executives “just don’t get it.”

So where exactly is the disconnect? Why does it seem so hard to understand the role, function and value of so many PMOs? A few years ago, I would have said it was just that—a lack of understanding, the executive team didn’t understand why the PMO existed and the PMO team didn’t understand what the executives wanted the PMO to deliver.

That’s still a bit of an issue in some organizations (okay, many organizations), but it’s a lot better than it used to be. Today, I think the biggest problem is one of persisting preconceptions. What do I mean by that? Well, I believe there is an intellectual understanding by executives around what the PMO is capable of delivering and how that benefits the organization. I also believe there is an intellectual understanding on the part of PMO leadership of what…

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"One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important. "

- Bertrand Russell