At their heart PMO’s have relatively simple goals; establishing policy, setting and implementing project management standards, and measuring performance chief among them. Some might say “bringing order to chaos” would be a tidy summary. Possibly. I don’t think it applies in our case and I hope it doesn’t in yours. There is no arguing the fact, however, that PMO’s require adherence to set standards and that there is a definite process. While ad hoc project management may allow us to feel more “agile” and “nimble” it also contributes to a “tyranny of the urgent” culture. The positive tension in creating a PMO is to retain that agility while implementing a culture that brings standardization, transparency and accountability.
We can provide all the pronouncements we like and have the best of intentions, but the real success of a PMO depends upon other critical factors as well.
- Is the initiative to establish the PMO communicated with the strong endorsement of senior management or is the team left to make it or break it on their own?
- Are clear and measurable objectives established to define the expectations of the new PMO?
- Are project managers selected on the basis of their aptitude and training, or simply because they are available or the projects are in their functional area?
- Is appropriate time, training and software provided, or are members expected to do it out of their hip pocket?
Knowing the answers to those questions will give you a good indicator of the likely success of a PMO launch effort. Positive responses will define the lines of accountability, provide the resources needed and instill confidence.