A Compendium of PMO Case Studies: Reflecting Project Business Management Concepts
By Dennis L. Bolles, PMP & Darrel G. Hubbard, P.E.
General Observations and Recommendations
The authors observe that:
"The discipline of Project Management has grown and matured during the past 60 years. It now encompasses the project aspects of program management and portfolio management. ... Therefore, project management and business management must be integrated within the enterprise, if all projects are to be planned and managed to provide benefit and value to the enterprise."
In our view, for this to be true, "project management" has to be redefined. At present, the Project Management Institute ("PMI") defines Project Management as: "The application of knowledge, skills, tools, techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements." [Emphasis added.] In other words, the management of a single project. On this basis, the authors are talking consistently about (project) portfolio management and not just project management.
By means of a set of specific questions, the authors' final research instrument sought PMO information and data in nine major areas. These consisted of information on the enterprise as follows: PMO demographics and structure; background; innovations; best practices and future impact; governance; methodology; capability; business planning; business execution; as well as any other relevant information.
Section III provides a general review of the authors' case study activities and their collective findings. In Section IV, the industries covered by the research case studies include: Finance and Banking; Health Care; Information and Communications Technology; Insurance; Mining and Metals; Transportation; and Utilities.
As well as developing and validating their current PBMO model, authors Dennis Bolles and Darrel Hubbard also reach an interesting conclusion:
"Based upon all the available research to date, the authors do not believe that PMOs can be, or should be, classified into some artificial types or groups by the project management profession in an attempt to create a guideline or a standard [Our emphasis]. Some of the significant reasons are:
- Organizational and political contexts are enterprise specific;
- Political contexts vary by industry, geographical region, and country;
- Enterprise Environmental Assets are enterprise specific;
- Organizational Process Assets are enterprise specific;
- Product and service focus is both enterprise and industry specific;
- Enterprises intentionally establish a PMO as either temporary or permanent; and
- Project Support Offices and Project Administrative Offices do not manage and are not PMOs."
This conclusion surprises us because much the same could be said of the guidelines or standards that have already been developed by various project management (professional) associations around the world covering the management of programs and projects. We suggest that the specificities that the authors have observed have more to do with the consequences of the different technologies in which the various enterprises are engaged than it has to do with the management aspect.
Nevertheless, in our view, the book is well written in a clear style for those who have some background and experience in project management at a senior level. We also believe that it provides a valuable reference and credible vision of project portfolio management in the future.
R. Max Wideman
23. Ibid, p17
24. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, Fifth Edition, Project Management Institute, PA, Glossary, p554
25. PMI defines Portfolio Management as "The centralized management of one or more portfolios to achieve strategic objectives". It defines Portfolio as "Projects, programs, sub-portfolios, and operations managed as a group to achieve strategic objectives." Ibid, p551
26. Bolles, et al., pp 57-58
27. Ibid, p56