Project Management

What is the purpose of a PMO?

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What is the purpose of a PMO?

For the past three years, I have had the privilege of speaking with groups around the country about PMOs, the challenges many of the PMOs and their staff face, as well as how business leaders view their PMOs. Repeatedly, some version of the same set of challenges and perceptions will surface. Common challenges and comments include:

  • Lack of understanding of the purpose of the PMO
  • Lack of demonstrated, quantifiable value
  • Lack of focus
  • Dissatisfaction in results
  • Perceived as a burden – sometimes a detriment to success
  • The business doesn’t understand the PMO, project management
  • The PMO doesn’t understand our business

Further investigation usually reveals that these PMOs do not have any identified mission, vision or measureable objectives. In many cases, the PMOs were established for all the wrong reasons. 

PMOs have regularly been setup as compliance organizations, focusing on processes, people and tools. The mantra has long been:

  1. Pick a model
  2. Develop processes – along with all the templates
  3. Hire people
  4. Select tools

Truthfully, this is a recipe for failure because it’s backwards. How can we do any of that without knowing what the purpose of PMO is? The answer is we can’t.

We must identify the purpose of the PMO, identify the mission and vision, and define the objectives to be achieved before we know what kind of processes and tools to implement or what type of people must staff the PMO. Without this knowledge, the likelihood of failure is high.

So what should we do? First we must keep in mind a simple truth.

The purpose of a PMO is to assist its constituents to successfully achieve their objectives and execute their strategy.

In other words, we must meet the needs of the business. We must, with the active and complete participation of the business’ executive leadership, develop a mission for the PMO, create its vision, and define its objects. Then, we in the PMO, can begin to develop the strategy needed to fulfill the mission, reach our vision, and meet our objectives. Just as with any other department in the business, this is not a one-time event. The mission and vision should be reviewed regularly. The objectives should be reviewed as part of the annual strategic planning activities. At all times, the PMO’s strategy and objectives should be aligned with the organization’s strategy and objectives.

We must be active in assisting our customers solve their problems, implement their strategy, and achieve their objectives. We do this by ensuring our PMOs are aligned with their strategy and objectives and we meet their needs.

The success of the PMO is derived exclusively from the success of its customers.

Posted on: February 14, 2013 11:16 AM | Permalink

Comments (7)

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The PMO should deliver value to organizations. Nobody wants a PMO monitor and indicate only how bad will the projects. PMO active income generating companies want. That's why the PMO should go further and learn strategy, allowing people to have implemented projects.

Very insightful. Thank you.

Very thoughtful. Agree on the purpose and success of the PMO. Thanks.

Very good. Alignmento with strategy is the most important.

Thanks for sharing!

"The purpose of a PMO is to assist its constituents to successfully achieve their objectives and execute their strategy"

I like this.

Thanks for sharing

well said, thanks Harlan

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