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The Programme Management Office: What can it possibly do for me?


Paul MarshallI have heard many negative comments about Programme Management Offices (PMOs). One could argue when defending a PMO that they are unfounded and unjustified ‘throw-away’ comments. So what are people saying and are they actually right? - If I was to put my bias aside since I’m in the business of managing PMOs and Programmes.

People say PMOs do nothing more than;

  • Introduce significant costs for staff and specialist management tools
  • Increase admin overload – reporting rather than doing
  • Delay projects / programmes due to bureaucracy
  • Encourage lack of flexibility and dynamic responses due to ingrained & unnecessary processes
  • Impacting on business as usual (stops the business doing the work that makes the money / provides the services)
  • Impeding on PMs making useful decisions

Organisations can benefit hugely by introducing a PMO and as with all change, managing the communication is key. The strategic benefits are often overshadowed in my view by the operational PMO implementation challenges – most of the ‘cons’ or perceptions above. 

Perhaps your organisation would realise the following benefits if a PMO was introduced and supported by your senior management team as:

  • Focusing the organisation to realise benefits aligned with the strategic plans, with the scarce business resources being assigned to best meet the needs of the organisation with no pet projects springing up.
  • A consolidated ‘big picture’ with clear metrics for ensuring benefits are realised in a timely and cost efficient manner.
  • Supporting the balancing act of delivering cutting edge / new products vs streamlining operational activities vs corporate governance requirements.
  • Standardising PM processes and methods – much better induction process for new PMs and clear integration with the project focused business users/teams.
  • Enabling the key stakeholders to take ownership and accountability to deliver true business value.

Building an effective PMO is no mean feat and will give you a few sleepless nights! It will however be very rewarding when you see the slick, well-oiled PMO machine delivering real value. Strong leadership will be required to make it happen.

In short, PMO correctly implemented should ensure your organisation does the right things, then does those things right.

Are you up for the challenge? I would welcome your views.

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