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Why command and control PMOs are killing project management

Colin Ellis | Oct. 29, 2014
If you are questioning the effectiveness of your PMO, you need to act, says Colin Ellis.

The PMO has to support the business of good project management and look for ways to increase output and outcome delivery whilst reducing the risk that your organisation faces as a result of project failure. For me, this is non-negotiable regardless of whether the PMO sits at a project, program or portfolio level.

The information it provides to those involved in managing and governing projects has to be clear, concise (there are some people still printing out huge folders of information) and be focussed on the decisions required to remove roadblocks or resolve disagreements.

It also has to predict those things that might not be visible to them in terms of risks around funding, people, suppliers, dependent projects, economic factors and so on.

Project managers - those people with the responsibility to deliver projects -- should be supported at every turn by the PMO.

I don't just mean administratively, as some PMOs don't provide this service, I mean that the PMO should work with them to define the right approach to their project.

It should also provide independent advice in planning workshops, ensure that project managers don't take their eyes off benefits delivery and that controls are in place to help them manage the risks, issues and people.

In this role, the PMO becomes a trusted advisor and supports the transformation of the organisation.

The PMO has to enhance the reputation of project management by behaving impeccably at all times and demonstrating the required leadership skills to support project managers effectively.

This will also ensure that the PMO is approachable. The language they use must be simple and not acronym heavy and they must strive to create a culture where delivery consistently delights the customer.

A recent blog by Larry Seen at [xref:|Culture University]]stated that cultural transformation starts with personal transformation and most PMO managers should start here.

Creating the structures and cultures that support successful transformation in your organisation should be the goal of the PMO, backed up with the metrics which demonstrate how they will achieve this.

A good PMO is literally worth its weight in gold and should be cherished as it continues to adapt to all that is good and bad about your projects.

Unfortunately, there are still a number of poorly performing PMOs out there and if yours is one that you (or your peers) are continually questioning, then you need to act.

Of course, projects are part of our DNA now, so it's likely that a centre of excellence is more relevant; but rather than allowing it watch the action from a heavily fortified tower, send it down into battle with the troops so that it can see where it can really add value.


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