PMO Models - There are four major types of PMO models (with many variations in between).
• Project Coordination and Reporting PMO. In this role, the PMO acts as a central repository of information on projects and their status.
If you have a large organization and many projects, this could be a valuable role in itself. This type of PMO knows about all the projects going on and keeps an up-to-date record of current status, budget, duration, issues, etc.
This information is gathered on an ongoing basis from each of the projects, which requires the project managers to keep up with this information as well.
Part of the role of this PMO is to consolidate and issue summary Status Reports. In this role, they can issue standards for Status Reporting format and frequency.
They may also keep certain metrics on how all of the projects are doing - for instance, the number of projects that are successful and the number that are not. If anyone needs information on all projects or certain projects, this PMO is the place to go.
On the other hand, this type of PMO has no ability to influence the projects or to help them if they are in trouble. They actually have little formal power or authority. If project managers do not send them the information they need, they need to follow-up with them to get what they need.
If the information is not accurate or of sufficient quality, they must again go back to the project manager and ask for revisions. If they do not get the information they need, their course of action includes escalation to management and the project sponsors.
The main advantage of this limited PMO is that they act as a clearinghouse so that there is one place to go for all project-related status information. This type of minimal PMO would be useful in a few instances.
• Project Management Infrastructure PMO. This gets the PMO more formally involved with how projects are managed.
The PMO establishes project management standards and guidelines. They create common templates and processes. They help establish a common training curriculum for the organization.
All of this is established to help project managers manage their projects consistently, utilizing best practices, to give them a better chance for success. This type of PMO role is valuable for a couple reasons.
First, it helps project managers and project teams gain a common set of expectations for how projects will be managed, regardless of the specific group or function involved.
If a project manager finishes a project in the marketing department and goes to a new project in manufacturing, he or she won't have to worry about learning new tools or techniques. The project manager utilizes a consistent set of skills, processes and tools throughout the organization.
A second benefit is that the project manager does not have to invent anything new. He or she can utilize a common format for the Project Definition, Communication Plan, Scope Change Log, etc. Both the project manager and the team can quickly be productive utilizing processes similar to those they have utilized in the past.
This PMO may also establish a repository of examples and best practices from other projects. For instance, if a project manager were putting together a Project Definition and Communication Plan for a Marketing Warehouse application, it would be nice if he or she could review previous deliverables from similar projects in the past.
Creating processes and procedures is only one measure of success.
To truly be successful, the organization must rely on governance processes to enforce the agreed upon processes and standards. In addition to this expanded role, the PMO may or may not also have a project communication and coordination role as defined previously.
• Project Management Office Coaching and Training Center PMO. This PMO is similar to the Infrastructure variety, except that it not only establishes the relevant project management standards, but it also provides training and coaching assistance in how the processes, tools and techniques should be utilized.
The training is scheduled as needed to build core competencies. This coaching could be on an ad-hoc basis when requested by a project manager, or the PMO coaches could actually be assigned part-time on a project.
The people within the PMO must be experienced and successful project managers themselves. A typical PMO member might have the following schedule for a week.
o Work on project management best practices (infrastructure)
o Spend three hours per week on four different projects to assist and mentor the project managers (coaching)
o Be available for ten hours per week to answer general project management questions, help project managers find material, etc. (ad-hoc support)
The entire philosophy of the PMO is to be more supportive and proactive in helping project managers and project teams. Rather than just building project management infrastructure and offering training classes, the PMO actively joins the battle, helping project managers deal with the day-to-day problems they face.
If concepts are not clear, a PMO coach spends one-on-one time with the project manager to help him or her understand and learn.
• Project Management Office Resource Center PMO. This PMO model is also called a Project Management Center of Excellence.
In this role, the PMO acts as a functional department for the project managers, just as all sales people might report to the sales department.
In other words, all project managers report functionally to the head of the PMO and have a dotted line relationship to the current project sponsor or manager in the functional organization. (The reporting relationship could be reversed - straight line to the functional manager or project sponsor, and dotted line to the head of the PMO, but this is not nearly as strong or effective if the PMO is trying to manage the project management resources.)
The big difference in the PMO Resource Center is that the PMO has formal authority over the project manager. When a project is ready to be staffed, the head of the PMO looks to find the best person available and assigns him/her as the project manager to the project.
That project manager may actually be temporarily assigned to the functional organization that is executing the project, but when the project is completed, the person comes back to the PMO. The PMO is responsible for maintaining a center of excellence for project management, providing the career path for project managers, taking care of training, etc.
Of course, the PMO can still be responsible for infrastructure (standards, guidelines, processes, templates, etc.), and they can also perform an overall central coordination and communication role for the projects as well.
They may also maintain some experienced project management coaching resources to assist their own members when they are assigned to projects. In other words, this type of strong PMO can still (and probably will) perform all of the responsibilities of the other defined PMOs.
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