Published here September 2008.


Musings Index

About PMOs and their Responsibilities

I have been asked by an avid reader of my Musings to conduct an unscientific survey regarding "PMO"s - otherwise correctly known as "Portfolio Management Office", but frequently named Program Management Office, Project Management Office of just plain Project Office. Whichever name you may have chosen, the intent here is to talk about "portfolios" of projects, defined as:

"PMO: The office responsible for managing a collection of relatively independent projects grouped together to meet some business need such as overall management strategy, shared resources and/or funding, and/or relative risk assessment."

So, if your organization has set up a "PMO" (as defined) or is contemplating doing so, we'd love to hear from you. You can answer in an Email or in an attached Word document. You don't have to identify your organization and you don't have to repeat the questions - just quote the Question number.

Q1 - Are the projects managed or to be managed:

  1. All primarily "intellectual" projects, e.g. IT (software); Business Administration; or cultural change?
  2. All primarily "craft" projects, e.g. construction, in all its forms?
  3. Mixed? If mixed, roughly what dollar percentage applies to each?

Q2 - How did you, or will you, start:

  1. Start small and prove the worth of a PMO? Or
  2. All at once? If so, why?

Q3 - Does, or will, your PMO cover:

  1. All projects in the organization? If so, roughly how many and what total value?
  2. Just some? In which case, how do you establish the cutoff point, i.e., which projects need PMO oversight and which do not? Again, roughly how many and what total value?

Q4 - Have you done a survey to discover all projects that the organization (or department) is currently undertaking?

  1. No
  2. Yes. In which case, how did you make sure that all projects got captured?

Q5 - What is, or will be, the extent of the PMO responsibilities:

  1. Complete portfolio life cycle management from selection to benefits realization? (Note: portfolio life cycle management does NOT included management of the individual projects, that's the project manager's job.)
  2. Only the selection, allocation and summarizing reports on the projects in the portfolio for executive management?
  3. Just a reporting function?
  4. Some other combination?

Q6 - On the matter of Project Business Cases:

  1. Do all the projects in the portfolio have Business Cases to justify their existence?
  2. Only some? In which case, what is the basis for differentiation?

Q7 - On the matter of Project Charters:

  1. Do all projects have Project Charters when it comes to implementation, i.e. the actual creation of the "product" as distinct from planning the project and its product?
  2. Only some? In which case, what is the basis for differentiation?

Q8 - To whom do the project managers or project leaders, "belong", i.e. who is responsible for their "care and feeding":

  1. The PMO?
  2. Individual departments?

Q9 - Do some project managers or project leaders manage more than one project:

  1. No
  2. Yes. If so, how do you, did you or will you, determine how many project managers should be in the PMO or reporting to the PMO?

Q10 - Do you think that a project manager or project leader can effectively and efficiently manage more than one project at a time, assuming clerical assistance but no deputy?

  1. No
  2. Yes. If so, on what basis would you arrive at how many? (Note: There may be multiple considerations, e.g. dollar value; level of risk/importance; sequencing of project phasing; project linkages or dependencies; urgency and so on - or simply just physical time available)

That should be enough for now. Of course, since this is an unscientific polling of opinions, if you don't like the questions, you can always create your own.

If we get a sufficient response in the next several weeks, we'll summarize the findings and report in a future Musings.

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