The Role of Project Management Office in Project-Oriented Organizations

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There are many master programmes for project management (PM) offered for students in many schools around the world. One major problem arises for PM theorists when some young professional are there among these students. They keep interrupting the teachers during the lectures trying to tell that what happens in reality is different from the theories discussed. They know about the real organizations and you cannot tell them anything that does not match the reality. Hobbs (2007) discussed one aspect of projects that has real lack of consensus on practice, which is the idea of project management office (PMO). That makes it even more difficult for trainers to discuss, especially in the presence of professional trainees. Hobbs (2007) discussed several different names and forms of PMOs that fit different purposes and bring up different benefits and even disadvantages. That calls into question if adopting or copying PMO styles to be integrated in a project-oriented organization would really add a significant value. For further discussion, this article is dedicated to discuss how PMOs can be a good asset for project-oriented organizations.

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The Role of Project Management Office in Project-Oriented Organizations

  1. 1. THE ROLE OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT OFFICE IN PROJECT-ORIENTED ORGANIZATIONS Hafez Shurrab hafez@student.chalmers.se
  2. 2. 1 1.INTRODUCTION There are many master programmes for project management (PM) offered for students in many schools around the world. One major problem arises for PM theorists when some young professional are there among these students. They keep interrupting the teachers during the lectures trying to tell that what happens in reality is different from the theories discussed. They know about the real organizations and you cannot tell them anything that does not match the reality. Hobbs (2007) discussed one aspect of projects that has real lack of consensus on practice, which is the idea of project management office (PMO). That makes it even more difficult for trainers to discuss, especially in the presence of professional trainees. Hobbs (2007) discussed several different names and forms of PMOs that fit different purposes and bring up different benefits and even disadvantages. That calls into question if adopting or copying PMO styles to be integrated in a project-oriented organization would really add a significant value. For further discussion, this article is dedicated to discuss how PMOs can be a good asset for project-oriented organizations. 2.THEORY 2.1. PMO Having a lack of consensus on their reality, PMOs are one of controversial terms that have no standard definitions (Hobbs, 2007). According to Aubry and Hobbs et al. (2011), PMO is an organizational entity that are characterized by certain degree of mandate. Additionally, for them, PMOs include multiple projects, not only one big project. According to PMI (COR) (2008), the responsibilities of PMOs range from supporting projects to being the direct responsible for the management of projects. 2.2. Roles and Functions a PMO Can Perform Hobbs (2007) investigated the importance of PMOs for a list of organizational roles and functions. The respondents rated the roles that PMOs are important to. The relatively important roles have been gathered into five groups. Roles such as project status reporting and project performance monitoring were represented by the monitoring and controlling project performance group. Additionally, PMOs were found as a great support to the functions and roles that are related to the development of PM competencies and methodologies. Besides, coordinating between projects and prioritizing new ones together with other functions of that kind were incorporated to the multi-project management group. Furthermore, PMOs were found to be important as a strategic support to the upper management in managing benefits and adapting to the external environment. Finally, managing archives and data bases of risk and project documentation were considered as PMOs’ contributions to the organizational learning group (Hobbs, 2007). 2.3. Characteristics of High-Performing PMOs Hobbs (2007) presented a significant analysis of statistical results concerning with the characteristics of high performing PMOs. The structural characteristics of PMOs including the percentage of projects within the mandate, the percentage of project managers located
  3. 3. 2 within the PMO and the decision-making authority of PMO were found to be proportionally associated with PMO performance. Moreover, some characteristics of the organizational context including supportive organizational culture and the PM maturity of organizations were also found to be proportionally associated with the performance of PMOs. However, these relationships cannot be taken as pure correlations (Hobbs, 2007). 3.ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION Since there is no standard definition for PMOs (Hobbs, 2007), it is very difficult to embrace the value of particular roles and functions PMOs can deliver. However, the results Hobbs (2007) arrived at for which organizational functions are considered to be influenced by PMOs give some sort of domain for how PMOs could be supportive for project-oriented organizations. Hobbs (2007) presented five groups of functions and roles that are relatively correlated with PMOs. That does not necessarily mean that having PMOs results in better way of performing these roles and functions. Nevertheless, it can be generally said that PMOs may be important for project performance monitoring, developing of PM competencies and methodologies, coordinating between projects, providing strategic support, and improving the organizational learning capability (Hobbs, 2007). Hobbs (2007) also discussed the characteristics of high-performing PMOs. That could be helpful in defining which particular type of a PMO’s pattern could be contributing to better performance of particular function and roles. For example, it has been found that the organizations with high levels of PM maturity have high-performing PMOs (Hobbs, 2007). That could be due to the fact that these organizations respect PMOs and understand how they could be goods assets for their particular industries. That means the PMO’s real value may depend on how a particular organization tailors and develops its pattern as it evolves. 4.CONCLUSION To sum up, PMO is a controversial term that has a lack of consensus on how it should be in project-oriented organizations. However, it can be generally said that PMOs are important to five main areas of organizational roles and functions including controlling, coordinating and prioritizing projects as well as providing organizational strategic and learning support. On the other hand, the characteristics of a PMO in a particular type of organizations may either enable or undermine the importance of it to the addressed roles and functions. Therefore, the PMO’s real value can be brought in by tailoring and developing its pattern simultaneously with the evolution of its embracing organization.
  4. 4. 3 5.REFERENCES Aubry, M., Hobbs, B., Müller, R. and Blomquist, T. (2011). Project management offices in transition. Project perspectives, 33 (1), pp. 48-53. Hobbs, B. (2007). The Multi-Project PMO: A Global Analysis of the current state of practice. PMI (COR). (2008). A guide to the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK guide). Newtown Square, Pa.: Project Management Institute.

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