A project management office, or PMO, is traditionally there for governance of projects. When a PMO shifts to become business-focussed, a lot of the functions can change or move focus too.
Rather than allocating resources and analysing data, a business-focussed PMO enables projects and should assure their success. This should be the defined mission of a business-focussed PMO, so we’re going to look at:
- The key functions of a business-focussed PMO
- Actions a PMO can take to enable success
- The results that should be seen in the business
Ensuring you know what the actions of a great business-focussed PMO looks like.
What to expect from your business-focussed PMO
A business-focussed PMO, or enterprise PMO, should be making sure that all of the projects in the business translate into results that support the strategy and goals of the business. The organisation should expect the EPMO to:
- Choose or recommend projects to the C-suite
- Provide a healthy return on investment for each project
- Lead and develop project managers and their teams
- Ensure projects align with the business culture and strategy
These functions can work alongside the governance and monitoring aspect that goes along with a traditional PMO, or you can choose to pass those functions to a different department.
How a business-focussed PMO enables success
The actions of a business-focussed PMO should all be driving towards providing tangible benefits to the company. It’s important to understand exactly how that can be done. What can the freshly-oriented PMO do to enable projects to be successful?
The right projects
Recommending, or even commissioning, projects to be undertaken is an important role of a business-focussed PMO. Considerations when looking whether to take on a project, with the business goals in mind, include:
- Does the project align with the business strategy?
- Does the business have access to the right talent to execute the project?
- Does the project fit in with the organisation structure and environment?
- Are the right resources available for the project?
- Are the outcomes achievable and tangible for the business?
New processes for project selection may need to be designed to enable successful project selection, such as a new submission and review process and ways to ensure executive sponsorship of the project.
Whereas a traditional PMO works on management-style tasks such as generating data, monitoring governance, and decreasing variables, a business-focussed PMO offers leadership. The head of the PMO will work with project managers to offer guidance and empower them to produce results.
Leadership has many guises, including:
- Supporting the team to strive for positive outcomes
- Offering opportunity for personal development
- Working with the team to bring out their best skills
- Maintaining focus on the overall vision of the business
And by showing such attributes, projects will be managed by people who engage in the business and are motivated to see their project succeed.
A business-focussed PMO needs to be led by a person who’s closely aligned with the culture and goals of the organisation. Their role is to ensure projects fit with what the business wants to achieve.
The office can monitor the work and outcomes of each project to confirm it’s on track for what it should be delivering. Regular training and development time with a focus on the core mission of the business will also give project teams the focus on not only what they deliver but how they deliver it.
To enable projects and project managers to deliver for the business, it’s important to offer personal development. This not only engages the colleague, but is a chance to refresh the business values through training.
Training opportunities can be based around technical skills, which will give a project a better return on investment, or soft skills that allow the worker to be more efficient. Having happy and well-trained project staff will ensure business goals are met.
Enabling projects with a business-focussed PMO should look like leadership rather than management, and empowerment rather than monitoring. Along with some of the normal roles of a project management office, like offering standard tools and templates, it can offer guidance on achieving business strategy and provide a point of focus for project managers.