It was interesting; attending a PMO Symposium and lecturing at a local University I was asked the same question in the space of a week – and that question was ‘is there a minimum size for a PMO?’
Thinking across the range of small to medium sized companies then the answer has to be a resounding ‘yes’, partly because if you ‘do’ projects then a PMO is generally a good idea (what we mean by a PMO can mean many things to many organisations of course and we have to take that in to account). But also because if you only ‘do’ a few projects then when one comes along that demands significant investment from an organisation then the cost of failure is greater accordingly. A much larger organisation with a large project portfolio and equally large project community will be able to absorb and manage such a demanding project far more easily (and with reduced impact of failure).
So how small are we talking?
How about ‘one’?
Can the sole project manager also be the whole PMO? Well not really in truth – a sole project manager can’t act like a PMO of many people since they can’t act objectively with regards to their own project performance, they can’t spend time investing in self-development and in method improvements and so on.
So not ‘one’ then.
Can a PMO be implemented in a small company that has limited resources, a small team of project managers only – perhaps two or three?
Well perhaps not a ‘PMO’ as such but certainly a virtual equivalent with shared responsibility of some of the basic PMO functions that could be allocated to the remaining project resources – perhaps one person could focus on the training of project managers, another on method enhancements, and another on community aspects etc. In this way a lot of PMO duties could be delivered to a reasonably high level.
Yes I think a PMO can be applicable to all scales of project business but it might not be a permanent, dedicated unit of course, but more of a ‘part time PMO’.
The biggest risk to such a PMO is the ability to offer the objective insight and support to all project managers, and the business. The smaller the team then the harder it may be to do this in a constructive, non-emotional, positive way – not everyone has the skill to do this and with a close team of peers it isn’t always easy to do (or easy to receive at times).