Harvey A. Levine, Principal
The Project Knowledge Group
Saratoga Springs, NY and San Diego, CA.
Published here July 2001

Introduction | What a Project Office Does | A Successful Projects Environment
Problems without a CPO | What Project Managers Do | The Chief Project Officer

What a Project Office Does

Most of our organizations have discovered the impact of "projects" on the success of the enterprise, and have acknowledged "project management" as a distinct and valuable discipline. What they have yet to recognize is the importance of implementing project management under the same structures and centralization that has become the paradigm for most other disciplines.

As an emerging discipline, it is even more essential that we provide structured leadership for project management than any other function in the enterprise. Through this centralized leadership, we can meet so many important needs, that would not be served without the project office function. The Project Office addresses these needs:

  1. It creates a cadre of people skilled in the art and science of project management.
  2. These people view their job totally as project management, eliminating the conflict with other responsibilities. Measurements (and rewards) can be developed more along the lines of critical project success factors.
  3. These people reside outside of the individual technical functions, removing home territory biases.
  4. The PO becomes a repository for project experience, models and standards ... to be shared with the all project leaders.
  5. The PO maintains awareness of the "big picture," seeing the whole project and all of the projects. Therefore, the PO is more readily able to monitor trends and see global problems. The PO is in a better position to provide information and reports to senior management, and to make recommendations to resolve conflicts and problems.

The Gartner Group (among others) has documented the justification for the Project Office (or the Project Management Competency Center). They cite four classes of services that can be provided by such a group, in an IS organization:

  1. Project Management Services - trainer, consultant, practitioner of PM practices and techniques.
  2. Methods, Processes and Metrics - guardian of corporate methodology and standards, estimating guidelines and metrics. Emphasis is on sharing and exchange rather than corporate edicts.
  3. Best-Practice Brokerage - Documents successes and blunders. Search outside the enterprise for best practices worthy of adopting internally.
  4. Reuse - of project plan templates, estimates, etc.
Introduction  Introduction

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