Project Management Institute

Preventive maintenance

no one likes bloated budgets; to avoid them, PMO leaders should regularly examine ways to keep operations as lean as possible

No one likes bloated budgets. To avoid them, PMO leaders should regularly examine ways to keep operations as lean as possible.


Every year, organizations endeavor to reduce costs and increase revenue. Sometimes, the imbalance between cost and revenue forces organizations to make painful cuts—including fewer projects or fewer employees. Support functions typically feel the effects of this action, and the project management office (PMO) is no exception.

But there are ways for PMO directors to reduce the pain. Keep the PMO fit and trim by regularly conducting a comprehensive assessment of the PMO's activities and processes. Then there won't be any flab to cut.

Specifically, here are four areas to examine:


Reassessing PMO processes helps reveal redundant tasks and activities performed by PMO staff. For instance, aggregation of risks and issues is an aspect of project reporting found in all PMOs. The executive PMO usually receives risks and issues in different formats from several distributed PMOs. A great deal of time and effort is spent in the translation and consolidation of the content into a single format, before any intelligence is applied.

A simple process change would create a single report template for all PMOs to use and save time for the executive PMO on content consolidation. This frees up resources—and funds—that can be applied elsewhere.


It is common to find multiple PMOs in organizations charged with the responsibility of delivering projects and providing management reports. Reducing the number of PMOs while centralizing functions can lead to immense savings.

For example, in telecommunications companies, it's the norm to have one consumer experience-focused PMO and a separate enterprise PMO. But in most cases, this demarcation isn't necessary; a single PMO can do the same jobs, and possibly better.


Automation happens on two fronts: between the PMO and the rest of the organization, and within the PMO. Part of the problem is that far too many PMOs are still using tools such as spreadsheets to carry out their day-to-day work. These types of tools only separate departments more while adding to the layers of bureaucracy, complicating the execution of project tasks and further delaying the time to market.

Shifting toward enterprise-wide project management tools connects departments on one platform, increasing project execution and thereby boosting productivity and reducing staff costs.


Large corporations increasingly outsource repetitive PMO tasks such as tracking risks, assumptions, issues and dependencies. Some ambitious organizations even outsource all of their distributed PMOs, only retaining the enterprise PMO to manage vendor relations.

In such arrangements, the vendor provides a set of project services to the organization. The organization no longer has to manage project managers’ salaries, training, project methodology and tools, software licenses, hardware and so on. Additionally, the vendor provides resourcing to meet the organization's appetite for project work. In this way, organizations are able to tighten their operational costs.

Undertaking a comprehensive assessment in these four areas enables PMO directors to instigate measures that not only maintain efficiency, but also increase staff productivity. And that's good for everyone. pm

img Abid Mustafa is a director of strategy and customer experience PMO for Etisalat, the incumbent telecom operator in the United Arab Emirates. He is the author of In the Age of Turbulence: How to Make Executive PMOs Successful.
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