Your project management office (PMO) will facilitate relationships between projects and stakeholders during a typical project lifecycle. It’s also essential for your office to build internal business relationships as a PMO best practice.

Stakeholder relationships will help a project get delivered without too much scope creep and with satisfied clients and end-users. However, having an internal network of contacts within the business will directly benefit your PMO and make its work easier.

We’re going to look at the value of building internal business relationships, covering:

  • The difference between a stakeholder and an internal relationship
  • How to build relationships across the business you operate in
  • Why it’s important to have an internal network of relationships

Stakeholder vs internal relationships

Project stakeholders need to be involved in a project to make sure it can get delivered on time and on budget. Your PMO may work on those relationships or facilitate the project manager to build and maintain those relationships.

Internal business relationships will allow your office to function better, and so it can support projects better. When your office is able to pick up the phone to a contact in HR to smooth out an issue, this helps your office and your projects, for example.

Internal relationships will be long-lasting, whereas a stakeholder relationship may only last as long as the project does. While a stakeholder relationship tends to be the project providing a service to a client, an internal relationship will have value in both directions.

How can a PMO build internal business relationships?

If you’re new to your PMO role or the PMO itself is a new part of the business, you need to start networking early. The wider and stronger your network, the easier you’ll find it to navigate around the business.

On an office or business unit level, your PMO can offer to help other areas in terms of management and governance – areas your office is an expert in. You can trade expertise with other business units and, at the same time, get to know the strengths of other departments and apply them to your PMO.

For your team and other workers across the business, you can set up programmes such as on-the-job training. Let people from other business areas come into your PMO and shadow your team so they can learn what you do and how you operate. You’ll get new people in your network and improve the applicants for job openings in the future.

From a personal perspective, you should be reaching out and building connections with other managers in the business. Creating personal relationships can mean starting a friendly chat or even facilitating regular meetings where a group of leaders comes together to talk about their work and exchange ideas and expertise.

Why are internal business relationships important to a PMO?

Projects can affect lots of business areas, so you need the relationships to make sure those effects are well-received. If your PMO is there to deliver an internal change agenda, you need to have people in your corner across the business, so change is easier for them to accept.

Even when projects are for external clients, you may need to take workers on secondment or pull some hours from a subject matter expert. Having a friendly contact within that person’s business area will make conversations much easier and better received.

Another major concern for PMOs is longevity. It’s commonly understood that PMOs don’t always last long in an organisation, but when you have a strong network, and you are able to demonstrate the value of your work across the business, you have more stability.

It’s an important best practice of a PMO to have strong internal business relationships so that you can get your work done and learn from other business areas at the same time.