PMOs: Two-Way Traffic or Divided Highway?

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.

PMOs do many different things and different PMO models have different sets of accountabilities, but there are a number of commonalities. If a PMO is involved in some form of direct project oversight, there will inevitably be two forms of communication the PMO has to get involved in:

  1. Performance information coming from the project team that needs to be consolidated and interpreted for a leadership audience
  2. Directional information coming from leadership that needs to be assessed in terms of impact on projects and teams

The level of interpretation and “value add” that is brought by a PMO to each of these items will vary, but the function clearly exists. In this article, I want to consider the mechanics of how that should work. Should the same person be accountable for both directions, or should there be dedicated individuals for each type of communication? Further, should there be one person accountable for an entire business area, or should we split accountability across multiple individuals within the PMO?

It used to be easy
Historically, these were easy issues to address. With projects viewed as individual, self-contained entities, a single individual in the PMO would be assigned to a number of projects as the PMO representative and would handle all PMO-related work associated with those initiatives. That would include consolidating performance …

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