In today’s Professional Service Organizations (PSOs), the demand for more for less, as well as the demand for standardization, are increasing. Profit margins are increasingly becoming squeezed and staff levels are being reduced. This very real scenario has become the bane of senior management of PSOs. The challenge PSO managers are facing is the balance between a sustainable profit margin and the demand of customers to decrease costs and deliver the same quality of service. This seemingly untenable situation does not have a quick fix. It does, however, have a long-term solution. The Project Management Organization (PMO) is the answer to this demanding situation.
What is a PMO?
Wikipedia defines a PMO as follows: “a PMO in a business or professional enterprise is the department or group that defines and maintains the standards of process, generally related to project management, within the organization. The PMO strives to standardize and introduce economies of repetition in the execution of projects. The PMO is the source of documentation, guidance, and metrics on the practice of project management and execution.” The project management process is defined by the Project Management Institute (PMI) through its Project Management Body of Knowledge, or the PMBOK, as I am sure you are aware of.Traditionally, Project Managers (PMs) reported to the Information Technology (IT) division or a manager reported to senior IT management. More recently, PMs in an IT division are reporting to a PMO Manager or Leader. This manager or leader has the responsibility of maintaining the standards of the PMO.
What are the standards of the PMO?
There are five standards of the PMO. The PMO:
1) Maintains the standards of the PM profession. Basically, these are the standards that are delivered for each project. Whether they must be the status report, the project schedule, or the budget, these standard documents must be delivered.
2) Maintains the PMO process, or in other words, the actual process flow that is incorporated in each project. From project initiation to project closure, the way a project is conducted, from beginning to end, must be standardized, no matter the size of the project.
3) Maintains the PMO library, which is a repository of all documents, and if possible, all communications, within each project. This is a critical piece of the PMO. Each member of the PMO, as well as each member of each project, must have access to their respective documents. Of course, a project member of project A may not be allowed access to the documents of project B. However, each PM of the PMO should have access to all documents for each project that the PMO is involved with.
4) Develops Professional Opportunities for the PM. As a PMO manager or lead, you want to attract the best in your industry and your organization to your PMO. The best way to do this is provide professional growth within the PM community. Allowing your PMs to attain Professional Development Units (PDUs) from PMI and its affiliates is the best way to do this.
5) Promotes continuous learning. This means providing opportunity for learning in other areas, for example, accounting.
This is the baseline for the PMO model. Creating the PMO should begin with these steps. The PMO should maintain the projects of the organization, and improve the PM process in the organization. In this baseline, we can establish the PMO as the area of best practices in the PM field.