While navel gazing for a presentation proposal, I debated both sides of the “Do you need a PMO to adopt Project Portfolio Management (PPM) practices successfully?” question and decided that while PPM success is achievable in the absence of a PMO, it becomes vastly more challenging.
This position may appear contrary to an earlier article of mine but this is not the case – I still feel that PMOs that purely focus on project oversight are a crutch, but PMOs that aspire towards more lofty goals can add tremendous value.
Here are a few reasons:
1. While you can engage a consulting firm to define and deploy your preliminary governance model and PPM procedures, where will the ongoing responsibility lie for tuning and tweaking those procedures?
2. Unless you are fortunate enough to work in a company where everyone follows processes & procedures blindly, there are likely to be some “teething pains” as PPM practices are rolled out and refined – who is going to be responsible for keeping an eye on compliance and coaching staff through these issues?
3. Who will own the configuration and application support for your PPM tools (if you purchase them) or for your homegrown templates and systems?
4. Who will review, refine and prepare reports, dashboards and other communiques for and as a result of governance committee meetings?
5. What organization group is responsible for helping project requestors or sponsors to develop consistent, good quality business cases or other project initiation documents?
6. Who has the skills and neutrality to quantitatively evaluate project requests via scoring methodologies or other approaches for project selection or prioritization purposes?
7. Who else has the lack of bias to “call it like it is” when certain executives start to revert to using influence instead of merit to get their projects authorized or prioritized?
If you can identify another group or department in your organization that can fulfill these responsibilities effectively, then by all means, proceed without a PMO. If not, then decide whether your organization has the appetite to create a team focused on achieving these duties. If the answer to both of these questions is “no”, are you really sure you want to explore PPM?