Project Management Institute

Four steps to a stronger PMO

The goal is contributing business value

Project management offices (PMOs) completed an average of US$100 million worth of projects in 2012 and delivered roughly US$71 million in value in increased revenue and cost reductions. This article, which is the first in a series in a special section on strengthening, staffing and starting a PMO, discusses how to strengthen the power of a PMO. In doing so, it details how time is one factor in a PMO's power, describing how established PMOs deliver projects with higher quality and greater business value, according to a PwC survey. It goes on to explain how the longer the PMOs are around, the stronger they become. Next, the article features a step-by-step guide to strengthening the power of a PMO. First, it describes how a PMO needs to hone the mission, noting that a PMO without a purpose is more likely to flounder than flourish. It also explains how to align projects with strategic objectives and notes how to assess that alignment. The article then discusses how PMOs need to set the standards and explains how standardized practices, tools, training and governance are a vital part of the PMO's value proposition. It overviews how PMOs have to demonstrate how they connect to business value to be respected and notes that setting and assessing standards does not stop once the project is over. The third area discussed is cultivating support, which describes how the most effective PMOs have powerful supporters at the executive level, championing the value of project management and imbuing the PMO with responsibility and authority. It notes that not all executives are experienced in understanding PMOs, so they might benefit from a strategic project management course or even a brief presentation with a few key statistics on the cost savings and timesavings provided by a PMO. The article lists five communiques that should be used when communicating with executive stakeholders. It also discusses the importance of keeping an eye on the horizon, noting how PMO leaders should avoid complacency. Accompanying the article are three sidebars: The first one features a PMO manager discussing how she took the lead on bringing in the project portfolio management tool, the second features a PMO manager discussing the role of the PMO, and the third lists the three areas of focus for high-performing PMOs.
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