PMOS. What really needs to be done?

How PMOs should fit into an organization?

Consulting on any Project Management platform we realize that recently a lot of attention has been paid to the purpose and value of the PMO, and this has been done from advice on daily activities in companies that work with PMO. Let’s take some time to see what the PMO should do, and perhaps most importantly, what should not be done.

It may seem obvious, but the basis of what a PMO does has to be based on the reason why it exists. If the organisation has created it as a governance function, then PMO staff should spend their time reviewing projects, conducting audits, serving on steering and oversight committees, etc. The problem is that as PMOs evolve into a role in which commercial value is supposed to increase, that connection between work and purpose becomes more difficult to define.

What exactly must be done every day to improve? How do you know that the work you are doing is yielding the right results?  There are two problems that need to be solved here: An ill-defined business purpose and the lack of an effective business plan.

The business purpose while going with the general idea of improving business value is suitable for a PMO, it should have a more specific objective. Sales managers are not asked to sell more or earn more revenue. There are specific focus areas and specific income or unit objectives that must be met.

The same applies to PMOs. It must set objectives that relate to commercial value, but are also specific enough to directly drive behaviour. Specific details vary from organization to organization, may include things to improve performance and increase customer satisfaction. These are likely to be quite different from the traditional PMO approach, and that’s where the second part comes in: an effective business plan. If the business purpose and specific goals or objectives are from the perspective of the organization and what is to be delivered, the business plan is the PMO’s leadership documentation of how those objectives will be met. It is similar to a project plan, which sets out the steps to follow and who will be responsible for completing the work. It also includes details of how these actions contribute to the achievement of the business objectives they support. The PMO has the task of improving performance compared to benefits. The business plan can identify a number of different activities that contribute to that objective with a greater focus on aligning benefits during project execution, more active client participation in project decisions, etc. These involve the direct action of the PMO. Others require supervision of the work of others. The development of the details behind the plan will be done through detailed planning between all PMO staff and stakeholders.

Therefore, it can be seen that defining what a member of the PMO, or the entire PMO, should do on a daily basis depends directly on the existence not only of a clear mandate from the organisation, but also on the creation of a comprehensive updated business plan. Increasingly, the business plan is what’s missing, and confusion is created among PMO members. To put that in project terms, you have to get the team to achieve the objectives according to purpose, but without first developing the complete project plan.

It must be clear that the relationship between objectives and work must be solid. This has implications, including the fact that the work of the PMO can vary considerably over time. While it is unlikely that objectives will be completely different from one period to another, there is always some evolution and change over time. As a result, the work the PMO does every day will change. By extension, the skills of PMO team members should evolve. In developing the business plan and the details of how to implement that plan, the head of the PMO should always remain focused on what is best for the organization.

PMOs maintain supervision of projects when it is most appropriate for the goals and priorities they have. The same applies to the roles of project administrator. Most of these functions today provide administrative support to project managers, or project management software such as TALAIA OpenPPM, which is implemented. The consistent use of the software tools that the organization has implemented is important and contributes to the delivery of value.

By way of conclusion, it is not uncommon for PMOs to be unsure of what they should do to achieve objectives and increase commercial value through projects. This is a rather vague and uncertain idea, it creates confusion and also the mistaken belief that the work being done actually supports that goal. At the same time, it should not be difficult to establish clear, easy-to-understand and easy-to-communicate work plans for the PMO and workers. All it requires is clarity of purpose and how to achieve it. That starts with leadership goals that are clear, specific and relevant to the PMO. Backed by a business plan developed by the head of the PMO that defines how those objectives are to be achieved.