Did you know that 39% of organisations could not define the purpose of their Project Management Office?*1
When someone mentions they have a Project Management Office (PMO), I make no assumptions…first question I ask: What is the purpose of your PMO? / What does your PMO mean in terms of business value to what problems does it solve?
Would you start a project without agreed objectives?
Would you have a department or division in an organisation that did not have an agreed remit?
A PMO, whether temporary (supporting a specific programme or project) or permanent, needs to have a clearly defined and agreed (with senior management) purpose.
All too often a PMO appears to be there to enforce process and sometimes the wrong or outdated process rather than solving business problems to become a strategic asset.
The PMO Without Purpose / The PMO with the Wrong Purpose
A PMO without a purpose is a PMO that struggles to articulate value. With 1 in 5 organisations having disbanded their PMOs in the last 2 years*2, a PMO needs a clear direction.
Consider this – what is the “right” purpose? A PMO without purpose will struggle to convince senior management of its value; a PMO with the WRONG purpose may wreak havoc not only for itself, but the future embracement of a PMO being an integral part of a successful business.
The PMO with the “Right” Purpose
A strong, clear and compelling purpose, driven by solid business needs, provides a firm foundation for your PMO to become a respected and integral element of your organisation.
The “right” purpose takes into account overall strategic objectives, organisational and project maturity and understanding of what business value means to your organisation. Right can mean different things at different times for different organisations.
As such, the PMO needs to be aware of the changing environment and will need to constantly evolve to enable an organisation to realign to optimise overall business value. At the bare minimum, an effective PMO will provide operational efficiencies in the successful delivery of critical projects and programmes.
A high performing PMO will continuously develop improved ways to align project and programme management approaches to strategy, whilst evolving prioritisation of initiatives and scarce resource.
5 tip checklist in articulating your PMO’s purpose
- Understand why your PMO was setup initially – is this reason still valid?
- Critically examine where your PMO can add business value in the next 3 months to 3 years
- Define and agree the current mission of the PMO and how you will incrementally add value over the next 3 months to 3 years
- Agree the service offering today and the potential future services prioritised by business value
- Develop and communicate your endorsed PMO charter to executives, the project community and wider business. It should summarise the purpose, objectives, scope and service offering to engender buy-in and set expectations. (Under commit and over deliver – NOT the other way around!)
Consider the elevator pitch: Can you and everyone in your PMO clearly articulate the tangible differences your PMO will make today and in the future to your organisation?
*Results from PM-Partners 2012/13 PMO Trends Survey Report
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