Project Management

Understanding PMO Complexity

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.

I recently saw a post that suggested project management offices were about doing projects right, and that portfolio management offices were about doing the right projects. Likely not coincidentally, the post was written by someone who was in charge of a portfolio management office. It would be easy to discount this article as just another example of how PMOs are experiencing a rebranding, and in some cases receiving new names. (PMI wrote about that last year.) However, I think there’s a bit more to it than that.

Regardless of the label, it’s too overly simplistic to suggest that one particular type of PMO can be responsible for ensuring the right projects are done, while another type focuses on ensuring that those projects are done in the right way. Project environments are complex, and the PMOs that are responsible for managing those environments need to understand that complexity and respond accordingly—regardless of what the “P” stands for (or indeed, whether it’s a “P” or something else) in their particular instance of the function.

A complex management network
Let’s take that simple example of doing the right projects versus doing projects right. While we tend to think that selecting the right projects is a leadership function, the role of portfolio management is crucial to ensure that the mix of investments that…


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