Project Management

Successful PMO? Think Small and Custom

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.

How big should the PMO be? Where should the PMO report? What should the PMO actually be doing?

Questions as old as the concept of the PMO itself, and questions that many people have strong opinions on. Yet there is no accepted standard answer that helps to define a model for a successful PMO. Instead, there are a lot of different perspectives that don’t do much to add clarity—and doubtless result in more people seeking answers to these questions.

Why is that? After all, PMOs have been around for a long time now. You would think that we could have collectively figured out what they should be doing to be successful. There are a lot of options out there—just ask Google what your PMO should be doing, what skills a PMO leader should have, and so on.

But if those lists were so good, wouldn’t at least some of them have been adopted as standards by now? Think what you will of agile or waterfall delivery methods, at least they are broadly agreed-to standard approaches to delivering work (with variations). But there’s no such consensus with PMOs.

I believe the reason is that PMOs simply can’t be pigeonholed into a box that defines what they should be, or how they should operate. It would be convenient if they could be—life for PMO leaders and consultants would be much more straightforward—but it just isn’t so. The reason …

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