Core Responsibilities of the PMO

Building PMO responsibility can vary greatly depending on who you ask. In my career I have had the opportunity to setup a few Project Offices. The first we won't talk about, the second and third turned out very well. I am sharing some of the key routines I used below:

Manage Proposed Projects Pipeline

  • Score proposals. This is a quick way to gauge the cost, benefit, and risk of the project so you know how much effort should go into it and who to involve. You also score this against other competing proposals who take from the same budget pool.
  • Vet that project Business Case is sound. The bigger the project the more work in this area.
  • Ensure that the project aligns to the organizations vision and strategy. It could be a great idea, but does it advance the greater goals of the organization?

Manage Project Portfolio

  • Project Dashboard. This will list key metrics and is usually color coded so leadership can quickly see where to focus attention.
  • Exception Reporting. This regularly goes out to all the project managers and points out anything that is missing from the project. I recommend you score the projects so ones missing a lot go red. It works wonders in getting projects in tip top shape.
  • Portfolio reviews. This is done with an operating or governance committee who has the authority to move the projects through each phase and make major changes to the cost, scope, and time of the project.
  • Ensure projects are following the process. This is a combination of active monitoring and reviews done at the end of each phase.

Manage Closed Projects (Artifacts)

  • Used for historical reference to size projects in the pipeline.
  • Reuse of artifacts that worked well in the past for similar projects.
  • Reference for upgrades and audit purposes.

Define Process and Procedures (keep it lean)

  • For Portfolio Management, Program Management, and Project Management. Not all three are always needed for every PMO.
  • Update as needed to ensure the procedures are best serving the organization. This means removing procedures that do not provide value to the projects. It is also important to keep it simple and clear so it can be easily repeated and reported on. Strong procedures do not mean a lot of procedures.

Training (Learning if you talk to HR)

  • Provide a Community of Practice to ensure process is being followed by all the project managers in the organization. It is very common they are not all in the PMO and you have a responsibility to make sure everyone understands the process.
  • Provide learning materials, guides, eLearning, classes as appropriate.
  • A certification process. This could be confirming they took an eLearning class before they run a project.

Provide and Maintain Project Tools

  • Provide Project Portfolio Management Tools. There are a ton of tools out their where the most critical functions are the same. Remember, the tool does not create success nor will it save a PMO. It is the people that make a PMO work!
  • Provide Collaboration Tools. SharePoint is probably the most popular and great for everything that does not fit neatly in your PPM tool. A good example would be initial discovery ahead of a project proposal. You might also use it to bring together multiple projects in a program.

Run Business Projects

  • First off, the PMO should not own any projects. The ultimate responsibility should be from the business that holds the purse strings. I consider this the most critical concept for any successful PMO.
  • Manage Programs and large Projects. These are typically the cross divisional Projects with high cost or risk to the organization. Medium to Small projects can be handled within the division where they have the subject matter expertise.
  There you have it. Some of the most common processes of a PMO.