Part of getting projects delivered in line with expectations is giving project managers what they need to perform. There are core project management office (PMO) functions to improve the performance of project managers.

Different PMOs will have different core functions and objectives. You will be able to draw a line from those functions to the actions of the project managers (PMs) who run the projects you oversee. The office may rely on them to provide data for reports or allocate the resources needed to hit milestones.

Whichever way your office is set up, there are functions you should be fulfilling to ensure your PMs can do their jobs effectively. To that end, we’re going to look at:

  • Four key functions you should be doing within your PMO
  • Why these functions are important to your PMs
  • What they look like in practice

What can my PMO do to help project managers?

As a directive PMO, you will be directly responsible for the performance of your PMs, whilst a supportive PMO will be there to offer documentation, processes, etc. Your office maybe somewhere in between, but every office is there to help PMs to get their job done and deliver projects.

There are four key functions that your PMO needs to undertake you create the right space for PMs to thrive.

1.       Knowledge sharing

A PMO spends a lot of time designing processes and understanding data. This needs to be shared through to project managers, along with providing the right training to be successful in the methodology your project uses.

Everyone managing your projects needs to know what’s expected and how to deliver work in the same way. This will mean stakeholder expectations will be met and that talent can transfer between projects when needed.

To make sure your PMO shares knowledge, you need to have a strong learning management system that your PMs can access. Have plans to offer ongoing training to your PMs – this will improve talent retention as well as knowledge. Be sure to design training alongside every new process or procedure you implement.

2.       Conflict management

Rather than getting involved with office politics and watercooler talk, this means to resolve issues around resource allocation. Your projects are likely going to compete over access to:

  • Talent
  • Space
  • Money
  • Hardware
  • Software

It’s up the PMO to ensure that projects get what they need when it’s needed and resolve these conflicts.

Projects need to work in harmony. A well-planned programme of projects will see less conflict since you’ll have ensured there are enough resources and that finite skills and space is only needed by one team at a time.

Having a strong understanding of project priorities and strategic goals will help the PMO choose where to place resources in the event of a conflict. It’s also useful to know your options when you need extra people, such as team augmentation and bringing in freelancers. Keep an eye on the ROI whenever you choose short-term options like these.

3.       Coordination of managers

Your office needs to know the skills and abilities of all of the PMs and potential PMs that are available to them. This will mean that your projects will get the best manager for the task. Making sure that every manager knows what your office does and how they can use your resources will keep projects and teams aligned with the overall goals of the business.

Have a strong communication plan so that all levels of your projects know what’s going on. Regularly review the skills and talent on your team and create peer-sharing networks so the PMs can support each other.

4.       Programme management

Some PMOs will function under or within a wider programme management office, depending on the size of the business and the overall structure. Strong programme management will ensure strategic goals are always being considered and there is an overall goal in the sights of all projects.

Having KPIs that work towards the overall programme goal, understanding the long-term vision of projects and how they fit into the business, and linking all activities back to the business vision and values will show PMs there is effective programme management in place.

The take-home

By building these four PMO functions to improve project manager performance into your office, you will build strong relations with your PMs and create an environment where they can thrive because the bigger picture is taken care of.