Project Management Office

Project Management Office

Insights | 02 October 2009

The first project management office (PMO) is understood to have been established in the early 1980s by the US Army. They leveraged the concept of ‘the war room’ to oversee major programs and operations.

During the 1990s, events such as the Y2K threat created a growing need for PMOs, and although many PMOs exist today, it is important to recognise the following:

  • The introduction of a PMO is a significant organisational change that needs to be carefully planned and aligned with your company culture.
  • Significant benefits can be realised through consistency and efficiency
  • There is no universal definition of a PMO so its function, role and service must be defined by individual organisations
  • It is vital to review your PMO regularly as it needs to adapt and change with your business

There are three broad models for a project management office

  • Functional PMO— this type of PMO is used in one area of your organisation only
  • Program or Customer Group PMO— this type of PMO is used for common customers or projects clustered together
  • Enterprise PMO— Focusing on corporate and strategic issues across the organisation.

The scope of a PMO should be defined as monitoring, supporting or controlling. The services offered can be narrow or broad but they must be defined to ensure sustainable success.

Why Have A PMO?

In a survey conducted by CIO and the Project Management Institute (PMI), the top two reasons for establishing a PMO were to improve project success rates and to implement standard project management practice.

Indicating a PMO’s importance, 39% of respondents described their PMO as a strategic entity employed at the corporate level, meaning it sets project management standards across the business and is supported by senior management.

There is also a strong link between the length of time a PMO has been operating and a company’s project management success rate – the longer the better. While 37% of those who had had a PMO for less than one year reported increased success rates, those who had had a PMO for more than four years reported a 65% increase in success rates.

As with all business improvement projects, there is a cost and a benefit. It is up to you as to whether a project management office is a worthwhile investment for your company.

PM-Partners group offers education, consultancy, implementation and review services for PMOs.

For more information or to speak to one of our consultants, please contact PM-Partners group on +65 6818 5771 .

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