With tough economic times befalling the global economy, your project management office (PMO) may come in line for budget cuts. It will always be tough to work with less money, and redundancies are usually the last option, but you may need to know how to reduce headcount in your PMO following budget cuts.

No one wants to let a PMO team member go, but it sometimes will be needed once PMO changes and efficiencies have been exhausted. There will of course be processes in place from your HR department, but if you have to work with or manage a person losing their role due to cuts, it will be challenging.

While your HR team should be your first point of contact, we have got a guide for you to work with when reducing the headcount in your PMO. We’re going to cover:

  • Selecting the role to be removed from the PMO
  • Managing the person’s notice period
  • Ensuring business as usual once they leave

How do I choose which resource to terminate in my PMO?

Working in and leading a PMO means you will know everyone on your team on a professional and a somewhat personal level. This will make it difficult to see anyone handed a redundancy notice.

The business will have a process to decide which people will need to be let go. You may be asked to contribute as the person managing the PMO. For example, you may be asked to give a list of the roles and responsibilities in your office for them to be rationalised, or you may be more involved in evaluating the performance and return on investment of each role.

Difficult as it is, when choosing the role to be made redundant, try and see it as that – a role rather than a person.

Be sure that all decisions and input you offer are documented. You want to be sure that decisions are based on business need and that the rationale is recorded as such in case of any appeals or tribunals.

If the conversation falls to you to tell someone on your team that they have lost their job, be compassionate. Choose an appropriate time to have the conversation and if possible, ensure teammates they are close to are in the office, if you still work in the office.

How do I manage a redundant member of my PMO?

How long your colleague will remain in the PMO will depend on things such as:

  • Their contract
  • Their agreement with HR
  • The local laws in your jurisdiction

Ideally, you would want the person to serve a notice period so that the rest of the team doesn’t have to pick up the slack immediately.

During their transition out of the business, be kind and upbeat without coming across as patronising. The person may feel very demotivated, so work with them to ensure they are empowered to still do work they are proud of.

This may include them working on tasks like documenting their processes and creating SOPs so their tasks can be picked up elsewhere. It may also be fruitful to let them finish off projects they have been working on so that they have solid information they can include on their CV for their next role.

Be aware that redundancies can be demotivating for everyone on the team. Try to keep everyone on task and feeling valued – this could mean extra one-on-one time and space to talk about concerns.

Reducing PMO headcount

Releasing someone from their role is always difficult. It is more so when there isn’t anything inherently wrong with their performance, but it is about business cutbacks. Every situation will be different, but our guide to how to reduce headcount in your PMO after budget cuts should go some way to help you through the transition.