PMOs suffer from chronic under staffing – the recent PMI-funded research led by Hobbs & Aubry demonstrated that only 7 out of 502 PMOs had 13 or more staff.
Faced with such a statistic, one would be tempted to applaud an organization that requires that any project that meets certain criteria is managed by a “titled” project manager reporting into the PMO. While this is certainly a positive sign, I’d argue that it does not provide sufficient evidence of organizational PM maturity.
By centralizing PM functions within a single organization unit, it reduces the motivation (and opportunity) for the remainder of the organization to develop & evolve PM skills.
Assuming a fixed funding model for PMO staffing, the “bang for the buck” factor of staffing qualified PMs vs. PM coaches is pretty compelling. One PM can deliver a finite number of projects within a fixed time period, but a PM coach can oversee and mentor multiple project leads resulting in much greater impact. Beyond delivery assurance services, such PM coaches can assume responsibility for the ongoing care & feeding of PM methodologies as well as the painstaking, ongoing work of “up-selling” PM value to executives.
Success for a PMO is admirably captured by PMI’s mission statement: “Making project management indispensable for business results”.
When the organization as a whole embraces project management as opposed to trying to centralize delivery of it within a PMO, the PMO can start to focus on higher value services.
To adapt the old adage “Give a company a PM and you can successfully complete some of their projects; teach a company to PM and they can successfully complete their strategic objectives.”