PMOs: Integrated Synergy or Just Confusion?

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.

As an organization becomes more mature in its approach to project management, it will inevitably start thinking about building a PMO. More often than not, that first PMO is somewhere within IT and will be focused on IT-based projects (or at least the IT work within business projects).

Generally, the decision to create the PMO comes from the CIO or someone in their management structure—and the first staff come from IT project resources. Unfortunately, that first PMO frequently doesn’t have a formally defined purpose, business plan or goals (and if some of those do exist, they are both focused on IT, and retained within IT).

This isn’t the best model for driving engagement and commitment from other business areas. Even if those areas are aware of the PMO’s existence, they are likely unaware of what it is designed to achieve. In the rare situations where there is awareness, the likelihood is that the purpose won’t align with the needs of those other business areas. That will lead them to the creation of separate PMO structures to look after departmental needs. While there may be some alignment between the different PMOs on selected initiatives or at an individual employee level, the organizational structure will be largely silo based and independent.

With variations, this PMO evolution has been repeated in numerous organizations for years. In…

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