Project Management

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Topics: Governance, PMO
PMO twins - trend or anomaly
Mark Mullaly’s latest article on Gantthead: “PMO: Seeing Double” indicates that he is seeing more organizations with multiple project offices – an initiative based programs office and an organizational or enterprise project office with general responsibility for projects, methods and management. Mark does his usual fine job with assessment and offering suggestions about how these offices must respect their individual mandates at the same time as working together for the common good.

I’m curious if this occurs elsewhere in organizations? Why do multiple groups ostensibly with the same project management functions co-exist? Or a better question, why do we not have multiple groups within other disciplines – e.g. why don't we have separate purchasing department for projects separate from purchasing for the rest of the organization? Or why not have different HR policies for those in the PM matrix and the rest of the company that gets to report to just one person or group? Is the creation of multiple project-oriented groups significant of a trend we will see expanding to other departments within an organization as project work begins to define organizations? Or is just a symptom of an organization’s inability to reconcile a specific project’s objective from the general practice of using project management principles that leads to this situation?

I’m not suggesting that this is bad or good, rather it is curious. I can’t remember any specific experience where other disciplines have created multiple groups to handle project work differently than the balance of the company’s work.
John, I was not so taken by Mark's article, but this is probably because I believe that there can only be one Programme Management Office and it deals with the overall change programme. This office informs the Project Governance Committee's decision making and ensures execution of their decisions. To do this, it must control the Project Management Environment (PME). The fitness of the PME is based on its ability to track and support successful delivery of individual projects and the overall portfolio.

Any other 'offices' are Programme / Project Offices (PO) or Support Offices (PSO). In principle their objectives are the same as the PMO, but their scope is smaller i.e., a specific programme/project rather than the oveall change portfolio. A good PMO should leave sufficient elbow room to the PO/PSO to shape their internal process to meet their individual project's needs.

One of the host of problems PMOs, POs and PSOs have is the lack of a common understanding of these terms. Ultimately, what they are called does not matter. The key is recognising their relative functions. The detail of what a specific office does will always vary based on the organisational context, it will however broadly be one of the aforementioned functions.

In answer to your question:"why do we not have multiple groups within other disciplines?". In my experience, we do. Companies I have worked in have similar hierarchies in functions like Finance and Procurement. There is generally a central global function that sets standards, monitors and controls the overall function. There are then satellite functions who apply the standards and control the local delivery of a function at a regional/national/branch level.

In the wonderful world of the matrix, the hierarchy is still king :-) Or maybe matrix is fine for delivery, but control has to be hierarchical..?

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