What is the role of PMO in pursuit of organizational project management maturity?

Project organizations strive for excellence and optimization of the results achieved with each consecutive project. The creation of a Project Management Office is proven to be truly beneficial in their efforts to enhance efficiency and achieve project management maturity.

Nowadays organizations operate more professionally than ever thanks to universal access to knowledge. Every profit-oriented business has a possibility to base its decisions on reliable data and best practices. A similar trend also applies to project organizations. However, these companies face the challenge of the unique nature of each project. Providing satisfactory results is more difficult for them than for businesses operating in a repeatable manner. Therefore, project organizations are investing increasingly more resources in gaining transferable project management skills.

The solution for the project-oriented companies may be the creation of the title PMO (also known as Centre of Excellence or Project Office). According to the Project Management Institute, PMO is an organizational entity established to provide coordination or support for the management of a number of projects or programs.

The tasks of the Project Office vary depending on the needs of the organization. Usually, PMO aims to support project teams in smooth operations and delivering assumed results through an effective transfer of know-how. Thus, this body responds to the key challenge for the management staff, which is ensuring a high and up-to-date level of project management skills among the employees.

Depending on the organization, Project Management Offices have completely different responsibilities. Moreover, PMO at the strategic management level of the organization has a much greater responsibility and impact on the project activities than PMO in the IT department. However, the functions performed most frequently by these entities in organizations include:

• project portfolio management

• monitoring the progress of projects and reporting to the management staff

• development of project methodology

• embedding project management practices

• gathering of lessons learned from previous projects

• project knowledge management

• management of human resources in projects

• support of project management in general.

The effective operation of PMO requires not only the employment of highly qualified staff but also the visible support of the organizational leadership.

Members of project teams often hesitate to respect the engagement of the Project Office in their operations. Therefore management staff should give PMO real decision-making responsibility and show support for its proceedings (as long as they are consistent with the objectives of the organization). In this way, the strong position of this entity and partnership with the employees will be established.

According to studies of recognized specialists in the area of project management, creating a PMO allows the entire organization to achieve the next levels of project management maturity faster than average. Project management maturity is understood here as the ability to deliver consistently high results from unique projects. It is the basic pursuit of project organizations.

Research shows that PMO serves the organization as a focal point for collecting project experience and developing the best project management practices. One can even risk a statement that increasing the project maturity of an organization is the core competence of this body! PMO's pursuit of maturity is reflected in its focus on the following areas: optimization of the project portfolio of an organization, timely delivery of the target project results and reduction of the enterprise risk. Enhancing these competencies allows the organization to operate more effectively.

A model that best reflects the connection between the role of PMO in the organization and achieving project management maturity is the P3O model. This model determines a structure for delivering functions and services within an organization through the creation of Project, Program or Portfolio Office. A version of the P3O can be adapted to the needs of the organization during the implementation. This allows organizations of different sizes to start their path to project excellence and help them achieve business goals. P3O supports the development of unique project competencies and, therefore, increase project maturity.

The success of PMO, as well as the continuous development of the project management practices in the organization, are difficult to maintain. However, they seem to be very strongly correlated with each other. It can be concluded that effective embedding of PMO in the enterprise allows the entire organization to increase competencies in the field of project management and, as a result, to improve project deliverables. Summing up, I believe that an efficient PMO can be an important trigger in pursuit of organizational project management maturity.

Author: Anna Ślęzak

Sources: https://www.pmi.org/learning/library/project-office-management-competitive-advantage-5843https://www.axelos.com/best-practice-solutions/p3o