Concept and Purposes
A project management office is a staff function that:
- Builds, maintains, and improves the project management system (project management policies and procedures, planning templates, project management software tools, standard codes for identifying resources and costs, standard report formats, etc.) in the organization, and
- Supports project managers and their teams in the effective application of sound project management principles and techniques to achieve project success.
Specifically excluded from this description (although they may be included in other versions of the project management office concept) are the following responsibilities:
- To conduct financial or cost/benefit analyses to determine what projects will be undertaken.
- To actually manage projects, including the unilateral development of project plans and the direct control of performance. This is the responsibility of the individual appointed to manage each project working collaboratively with their team.
- To perform tasks in projects that are normally the responsibility of other functional groups, such as procurement, quality assurance, legal, or human resources departments.
While recognizing that projects are managed by project managers and their teams, the over-riding purpose of the project management office is to help ensure the success of every project with respect to the quality, time, and cost dimensions of performance.
More specifically, the purposes of the project management office are:
- To provide for ongoing ownership and responsibility for the application of project management in the organization.
- To provide a permanent home for project management expertise/knowledge, as individuals enter and leave the organization over time.
- To acquire the tools required to manage projects effectively and efficiently.
- To ensure the consistent application of project planning and control processes on all projects.
- To promote concise communication regarding projects within the organization.
- To provide computer support for the project management process, freeing project managers to focus on building the team and managing the work.
- To organize and maintain an organizational repository of project information that has value in planning future projects.
- To conduct portfolio-level analyses (such as workload projections for specific resources) across multiple projects.
- To continuously improve the project management system and the practice of project management within the organization.