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Multinational and Local Business PMOs

Having a project management office (PMO) can either be seen as an essential or an extravagance, depending on the size of the organisation. The main difference is the size of the business; whether you’re discussing a multinational or local business’ PMO.

The tasks and challenges in either size of business will be very different, although there will be commonalities as well. In this article, we’re going to look at:

  • The general differences between a multinational and a local PMO
  • Key goals and actions for a multinational PMO
  • How a locally-sized PMO can make a difference in a business

How does a PMO in a multinational and a local business differ?

The size and scale of the projects that fall under a PMO will be very different in a local and a multinational company. This will mean there will be tasks that take priority in a large company that don’t need a lot of consideration in a local, small business.

  • In a multinational company, an PMO is much more likely to be process-focussed, whereas you can expect a small company PMO to focus on business results.
  • In a small company a PMO can act as a driver of success, directly enabling project success. In a vast company, there will be more oversight of actions.
  • Companies that cross borders will need to be acutely aware of cultural differences in how projects are run, but this shouldn’t be a major consideration in a local company.

What should a multinational PMO look like?

A PMO’s job is ensure that projects get delivered on time and on budget and produce outcomes in line with business strategy. In a very large company with offices and projects all over the world, the first task for a PMO is standardise project processes.

Harmonising how projects work will mean having strong and easy to use templates as well as local buy-in. As well as templates, ensure that the same measures of success are being used across the business. This will ensure fairness as well as provide a framework for project delivery.

A multinational PMO needs to work across the business. Liaising with other business areas that the PMO can impact, such as HR, finance, and procurement, will give the PMO internal credibility. It will also help with project identification to know what’s going on in other areas.

Intercultural challenges always arise in a multinational company. We all know that business practices are unique across regions and these needs to be work with, not eliminated. Having a clear communication plan and a way to confirm high-level understanding and buy-in across your many locations will ensure your PMO can carry out its governance tasks.

What are the functions of a PMO in a local business?

Even small, local companies can benefit from having a PMO. The first consideration may be cost – it’s possible and practical to appoint one of your project managers as a one-person PMO to provide key functions, if the company can’t afford a fully staffed PMO, yet.

The PMO of a small company will need to establish what its functions are. Operating to provide:

  • Monitoring
  • Reporting
  • Resource optimisation

May need to be prioritised. A typical function in a PMO in big companies is the assessment and commissioning of projects, this may be too much responsibility to take away from board level in a small-scale company.

Actions that a PMO can take to be effective in a small business are the bread and butter of project management. Some of the basics that a PMO can do are:

  • Standardise matrices and measures of success for each project
  • Design project templates to ensure process adherence
  • Manage internal network or cloud storage so records are well-ordered
  • Organise upskilling and training for staff when skills gaps arise

The take home

No matter the size of the company you work in, a PMO can be a strong department that adds value to the bottom line. Multinational and local PMOs function differently and have different responsibilities.

Whereas a multinational will have a large team of people working to monitor and improve project processes and analysing vast amounts of data, a local business PMO will focus on getting a small group of people performing to their best. The effects of a small company PMO will likely be easier to track but a multinational’s PMO will still be integral to accurate running of the business.