What are PMO Responsibilities for Strategic Guidance?
Rex Morris | December 14, 2016
In addition to driving greater efficiencies and controls at the project level, an effective Project Management Office (PMO) provides a range of more strategic benefits to management, including insights and guidance at the programmatic level.
Implemented correctly, PMO responsibilities can include providing transparency into the entire portfolio of projects underway in an organization — tracking, evaluating and reporting on progress in every relevant dimension. From resource planning to funding prioritization, the PMO can ensure that each project not only meets its own objectives, but also supports the broader goals of the organization. In short, the PMO provides a wide range of strategic guidance to an organization’s leadership.
- More bang for your project buck. First and foremost, the PMO provides strategic guidance on ways to leverage existing resources within project teams for improved productivity, reporting and consistency. To provide an example, a PMO can identify the projects with the most effective scheduling and budgeting processes and documentation, and ensure that these procedures are replicated standard operating procedures for all other teams. Improvements such as this may have a significant impact on two levels. First, management gets a clear and more consistent view of project status across the enterprise, with an easy way to roll up results for agency-wide decision-making. Second, the project teams spend less time developing such processes and documents themselves, and more time focused on meeting their particular deliverables.
- Ensuring that project teams are positioned for success. PMO responsibilities also include a second major area of strategic guidance: ensuring that various project teams have the resources, skills and capabilities they need to reach their objectives. For example, the PMO can identify teams where project managers or team members may lack critical skill sets — this highlights the areas that may be slowing the team down or diminishing productivity. Similarly, the PMO can assess whether project teams have the necessary tools, processes and methods to accomplish their goals. Based on such analyses, the PMO can make specific recommendations for specialized software, training, or adding additional resources to the team, thus increasing their capabilities.
- Putting the most important projects at the front of the line. A third area of strategic guidance the PMO can deliver is in the prioritization of projects across the organization to provide alignment with the organization’s strategic goals. By assessing the various projects underway, the PMO can help determine the appropriate prioritization. For example, an agency with 30 projects underway may have only a handful that directly support its major goals. An effective PMO is familiar with the organization’s strategic goals and will seek to identify such potential misalignments, and make recommendations to management for reprioritizing projects accordingly. For this reason, PMO responsibilities include looking across the agency’s project portfolio, putting the facts in front of leadership and making recommendations as appropriate.
The bottom line? A focus on maximizing performance.
Just as a financial manager oversees the performance of a range of financial products, mutual funds and so on, a PMO oversees the performance of the entire portfolio of an organization’s projects. The PMO’s role is to identify issues early — before they become problems — and make specific recommendations for the most effective changes and adjustments in these investments. As a result, the PMO ensures that the organization gets its desired return on investment in its projects.