Project Management

Multithreading the PMO

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 [email protected] Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

As you can probably imagine, I get asked a lot of questions about PMOs. And I am contacted by many different organizations looking for assistance in improving their PMO function. In almost all cases, there is a specific request that is being made. It may be that they are looking to improve the PMO’s ability to manage resources closer to full capacity, or to improve the ability to implement portfolio adjustments without disruption. Recently, I was asked to work with a PMO that was struggling to implement effective benefits management, and before that there was a request to improve sponsor relationships.

The problem is that all of these requests for assistance miss the point. PMOs don’t succeed when they are able to improve their ability to support one or two aspects of delivery, they succeed when they improve project performance overall. And that requires every aspect of those projects to be treated as part of a whole—it requires a multithreaded PMO that is delivering in all areas.

Let me explain by means of an example.

The narrow focus problem
I was recently approached by a frustrated PMO leader who was complaining that his bosses were never satisfied with what the PMO was doing. He explained that the first complaint had been that when leadership wanted to make changes to projects in response to shifting operating conditions and opportunities, it …

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