Organizing the Project Management Office
What is a project office and do you need one? The project office is a governing resource, used to coordinate, control and support projects for the entire organization, or within one or more internal departments. The project office can be a physical or virtual enterprise depending upon internal needs and capabilities. And now for the complicated part of the question - Do you need a "project office" in your organization or department? The answer is a likely "yes", although as always, the devil is in the details. In fact, if you currently apply and follow standardized policies and procedures for project management, you have already established a "project office" to some degree.
[Also available for free download: The Fast Track Project Plan Template]
A project office can exist in varying forms, applied via customized roles and responsibilities designed to suit project needs and circumstances. Project office setups can range from "virtual oversight" to a formal operational entity. Consider the following examples:
Procedural Project Office
Standardized policies and procedures are established to govern project planning, execution and management.
Oversight Project Office
A project steering committee and/or auditing operation is established to select projects, set standards and provide project oversight.
Consulting Project Office
Project management "consulting" services are provided to the organization to support project selection, planning and execution.
Resource Pool Project Office
Pool of project management resources "loaned" out to various business units to plan and complete internal projects.
Operational Project Office
Fully staffed and funded organizational entity established to select, plan, execute and audit projects.
Steps: Creating an effective project management office (PMO)
Which setup is right for you?
The form and mission of any given "project office" will depend upon individual needs and historical project performance. A complete needs assessment is the first step, helping you to answer one primary question - what are you trying to accomplish? Regardless of specific form and mission, an effective project office can serve several key goals:
1. Improve project performance through established standards.
2. Lower project costs through minimized redundancies.
3. Leverage specialized project management skills and expertise.
4. Centralize management of a multi-project portfolio.
5. Standardize project management services to diverse business units.
6. Consolidate project oversight for project performance metrics.
7. Maximize external vendor contracts for the delivery of outsourced project management services.
Depending upon the goals at hand, the project office "mission" can include one or more of the following assigned roles and responsibilities:
1. Set project management standards.
2. Manage the enterprise project portfolio.
3. Review project requests and select projects.
4. Act as a project resource pool.
5. Plan projects (from initiation to closure).
6. Provide training and coaching to project managers.
7. Execute and implement selected projects.
8. Manage vendor contracts (for outsourced project services).
9. Provide project oversight, including audits and project reviews.
10. Project performance analysis and metrics reporting.