For a project management office to work at optimum efficiency, everyone involved in the organization must understand the PMO’s roles and responsibilities. Clearly defined roles and responsibilities will streamline the completion of projects by eliminating the need to back track on tasks acted upon too quickly or having to hold back on progress based on imagined red tape.
With well-defined roles and responsibilities the streamlining process will take on a compounding effect as economies of repetition take hold. When consistency in the process is seen by teams working downstream from the PMO, they will gain a strong grasp on when the PMO should be consulted and when they need to act on their own. The resulting economy of repetition from that consistency will predictably result in an efficient project.
Now, defining those roles and responsibilities isn’t a task that can simply be copied from another corporation’s model. The first step in defining the PMO is to take an inward look at your organization and determine what it is you want the PMO to accomplish and how you want the team to go about accomplishing those goals.
Every organization has different characteristics than the next whether it be size, structure, culture, or any number of different nuances that can affect the make-up of the PMO. When defining what makes your organization unique, you’ll come to recognize what style of a PMO will fit best. A project management office can act in varying degrees from that of a supportive role to having direct control over all projects through a dedicated project manager for each initiative.
Once you have evaluated your company’s internal needs, you can begin to look at defining the PMO’s roles and responsibilities. It is important to recognize that there are some common roles that all PMOs will play. In its simplest form any PMO should play a role in;
- Reducing the risk of projects
- Ensuring that projects can and will keep on budget
- Seeing that projects are finished on time
- Improving the quality of projects started and completed
Those 4 main fundamentals can be broken down and examined in a number of different ways, but the most important factor that will allow the PMO to accomplish the above tasks is information management. Risk analysis, resource management, time scheduling, and skill development cannot be accomplished without proper management of information.
A well-oiled PMO is essentially an information management machine that operates in continuous cycles.
The project management office needs to effectively collect, analyze and store data on past, current and future projects.
Historical information and case studies will initially be used to write procedures, templates and directives which will become the current best operating procedures. As new projects are set in motion and eventually succeed or in some cases fail, studies of what worked and what didn’t will lead to the lessons that can be learned for future projects. That data will become part of the PMO’s repository and will help to update or write new best operating procedures.
In addition to managing data and writing procedures to determine how projects are to proceed, the PMO should be getting regular updates on current projects and interjecting in any projects that are behind schedule or exceeding budgets. Recognizing why projects are not on track is an important responsibility of the PMO as understanding the why, will lead to being able to provide the tools to get the project back heading in the right direction.
The roles and responsibilities of the PMO are usually focused downstream on ensuring the success of projects and new initiatives, but, it should also be clear that the PMO also has duties that go upstream with providing reports to the executive team on the progress and results of projects. The often overlooked aspect of the PMO’s duties is its responsibility to itself.
An internal audit of the project management office should be done regularly using a set of key performance indicators to ensure that the PMO is effective. Many project management offices crumble because they fail to recognize faults from within. When reviewing the results of PMO audits attention should be paid to the structure of the PMO’s roles and responsibilities with consideration given to any need for alterations in the structure.