The Project Management Office
There is a high and growing level of M. confidence in the utility of PM Offices. Is this confidence justified?
A remarkable paper on this topic is: An exploration of PM office features and their relationship to project performance (The International Journal of PM of October 2004). The paper, written by Christine Xiaoyi Dai and William G. Wells is based on a two-year empirical study.
A Project Management Office is not to be mixed up with a Project (Program) Office (an organizational entity established to manage a specific project, or a related series of projects, usually headed by a project or program manager). A Project (Program) Management Office is also referred to as a Center of Excellence or Center of Expertise (CoE) and can be described as an organizational entity established to assist project managers, teams and various m. levels on strategic matters, and functional entities throughout the organization in implementing PM principles, practices, methodologies, tools and techniques.
The authors have identified 6 main functions of PMO's:
1. Developing and maintaining PM standards and methods
2. Developing and maintaining project historical archives
3. Providing project administrative support
4. Providing human resource / staffing assistance
5. Providing PM consulting and mentoring
6. Providing or arranging PM training
Other less frequent PMO-functions mentioned are: maintaining communication website, portfolio m., configuration m., managing projects, monitoring and audit, project review, quality m. assurance, sales support, financial tracking and execution, capital project financial governance, budgeting, pm certification, enterprise project m. system, facilitation, organization development, strategy, project planner, assessment review, organization change agency.
Dai and Wells found that there is strong (statistical) evidence that PM standards and methods are most highly correlated with project performance. This activity should take priority over the other 5 studied, whether a formal PMO entity is established or not (!) The use of project historical archives also showed a significant correlation with project performance. Surprisingly, the other 4 PMO functions did not.