A LinkedIn question from this week on the topic of PMOs in the future made me think about the benefits of having a PMO once a company has reached a high degree of project management maturity. This is not as fantastic a vision as you might think – after all, PMI’s tag line is Making Project Management Indispensable For Business Results and it is not outside the realm of possibility that many organizations will (at some point in the future) have project management institutionalized as an organizational competency instead of a skill shared by a select few.
When such a time arrives (See, I can take a “glass is half full” position at least once every year!), will there still be a need for a PMO? After all, if project management skills become as natural to staff as operational competencies, do we still have a need for a group focused on the discipline?
The first analogy I would make is to quality. Even those companies that have reached stratospheric altitudes of quality and have embedded this competency into all aspects of their organization would still have a staffed quality department.
Here are some of the benefits that a PMO can provide to higher maturity companies:
- Guardians of the methodology – even in a high maturity organization, if there is no PMO, who is responsible for the ongoing evolution of PM methodologies and the tools which support them?
- Consultation & facilitation – even the most skilled PM can benefit from an unbiased external observer when faced with tricky decisions. PMOs can aspire to be “neutral territory” by providing consultative services to project teams such as delivery assurance reviews or risk identification & assessment facilitation.
- Support for portfolio governance – If the organization has embraced project portfolio management practices (which is highly likely if it is at a high degree of maturity), the PMO can facilitate governance practices such as intake reviews or prioritization discussions.
- Consistent, strategic reporting – No tool can (yet) replace the benefits that a centralized staffed process can bring to portfolio-level reporting. The benefits go beyond the communication of project status to looking at trends, systemic risks and issues and key lessons and reminders that can be shared organization-wide.
No matter how good a professional golfer is, they will usually benefit from a coach to help them maintain their performance and to improve. An effective PMO will still be a valuable coach to your organization no matter how low your project management handicap goes!