The Role of the Project Management Office
In many organizations, higher levels of management are increasingly viewing a Project Management Office (PMO) as an essential element that enables the success of projects, and hence, the future success of the entire organization. There are a number of compelling reasons.
Where there is any significant number of projects, it is simply not possible to conduct successful portfolio management unless there is consistency of method and consistency in the resulting data being fed back to the management of the portfolio, that is, the Steering Committee. This simply means that there MUST be standard project processes and procedures in place, and a PMO is the best vehicle to ensure that this happens.
An Even More Compelling Reason
There is yet another reason that will comfort the financial administration of the organization. Again where there are a significant number of projects, it is simply not financially efficient for every project to be carrying its own contingency fund. Better that these contingency allowances are identified and earmarked, but retained in a central repository held within the PMO. This way the funds can be usefully applied towards cash flow requirements, rather than sitting idle in disparate pockets.
Allocation of Responsibilities
The PMO can ensure that responsibilities are properly identified and correctly assigned. These obviously include the following.
The Project Manager - Obviously, this is the person with the authority to manage the day-to-day work of the project. This includes leading the planning and development of all project deliverables and responsibility for managing budget, work plan and the appropriate technology management procedures and processes. Project managers should be responsible for managing a project from inception to closure as evidenced by successful delivery and transfer of the project's product into the care, custody and control of the Client or Customer. Project managers are stakeholders in the portfolio management process, and may provide assistance though they do not have a formal role.
The Project Sponsor - This is the person who puts forward project work during the Portfolio Selection process and has ultimate authority over the project if selected. For example, the Sponsor provides project funding, resolves issues and scope changes, approves major deliverables and provides high-level direction. He or she also champions the project within his/her department.
The Steering Committee - This is a group of high-level clients and stakeholders who are responsible for prioritizing work, providing strategic guidance to the portfolio, prioritizes work for the portfolio and then monitors the portfolio during the year. If new work comes up or if changes occur in the authorized workload, the Steering Committee determines the impact on the portfolio and adjusts accordingly. This group may, or may not fall under the heading of PMO.
However, if the Steering Committee is a completely separate entity, then the PMO can perform an important role in ensuring that members of that committee do not interfere with the day-to-day work of the project managers.