Project Management

The Biggest Mistake PMO Leaders Make

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.

For a long time, I have been making the argument that PMOs should be treated like other business functions. They should be given a clear mandate, have annual objectives set, and be measured in terms of how well they developed and executed a business plan in support of those objectives. You know, like Sales does, or Marketing, or any other department you can think of.

But recently, a project manager I know said to me that PMO leaders don’t often behave like the heads of other departments. They described PMO heads as being too focused on themselves, and shared a recent exchange they had with the head of the PMO in their organization.

The PM had recently started a key strategic initiative, and the PMO leader met with them and started the conversation with, “What I’m going to need from you on this project is…” and then went on to provide a long list of items that the PM was expected to deliver.

This was an experienced project manager, and they said that they were a) annoyed that the PMO didn’t think that they would know what was required; and b) that there was no consideration of how the PMO could support the PM on such an important project.

Instead, there was just an expectation that a lot of information would flow to the PMO, obviously the result of work performed by the team—and with no clear understanding of why it was …


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