The Project Management Office is an organizational structure that standardizes the project–related governance processes and facilitates the sharing of resources, methodology's, tools and techniques. The idea is that the PMO support the Project Managers and Programme Managers and are an integral stakeholder and decision maker for the organisation's projects.
The primary function of the PMO is to support the projects in a number of ways, include Resourcing, Defining the Project Management Methodology, Monitoring Project Progress, Ensuring Project Compliance and help with Communication across Projects. This is not a definitive list, but these are the highlights, as stated within the PMBoK guide.
I have worked in several companies with a PMO, but the most visible has been at my current client. We currently have a PMO team with experienced personnel, who are able to guide and support the many Project Managers. When I first started at this client, I was unsure of the support that they would offer and did not fully understand the vital role that the PMO can play.
When I started work for the client, I helped the PMO to redefine the Project methodology. The methodology in place here is based on the Prince2 methods and practises, but has been modified to suit our environment. The projects follow a strict process and the PMO are here to help the Project Managers follow the methodology and deliver our projects. As the project methodology is based on Prince2, each project can tailor the process to suit the project requirements.
One of the key roles that is performed within the PMO is to determine the project and programme priorities. They have full visibility of all of the projects and understand the business strategy and goals. It is the role of the PMO to ensure that we deliver the right projects at the right time to ensure that the business strategy goals are reached. The PMO will track the projects, track the budgets and track the risks to ensure that the projects are successfully delivered, ensuring the business benefits are realised.
The PMO will ensure the projects are resourced, from a Project Management point of view, to ensure the correct skills are in place to deliver a successful project with an appropriate Project Manager.
PMO usually report on all of the projects to the organisation's Senior Management. They will take each project and be able to give an overall picture of all related and unrelated projects. They will highlight the key successes and failures and issue reports to indicate who many projects are being worked on, delivered and if any have been stopped. An important function of the PMO is to understand the business benefit of all of the projects and understand when to close projects early, if there is little business benefit or they do not align to the overall business strategy.
The PMO has much to offer a corporation and should be aligning the projects with the strategic direction of the business. In addition, the PMO should improve the communication to the stakeholders and should improve the quality of all project deliverables.