Having positive and effective relationships between your project management office (PMO) and the wider business will make your project run effectively. In terms of stakeholder relationships, your PMO needs to engage with project teams to get the best returns.

Whilst engaging project teams may not feel like a pressing priority; it’s the project teams who deliver results and follow the processes your PMO designs. As well as engaging with the people with power over your office like your sponsor and the C-suite, you need to work with the people on the lower rungs of the business structure.

The help you plan how your PMO can work with project teams, we’re going to cover:

  • Why it’s worthwhile to engage with project teams
  • What you can do to build relationships at this level
  • Solid examples of actions that will increase PMO and project team engagement

That will go beyond engaging with project managers and hoping it trickles down.

Why should my PMO engage with project teams?

When you work with the leaders of the business, it’s likely to be a hand-off relationship with reporting and updates but little collaboration. On the other hand, your PMO is much more likely to work directly with projects teams on a regular basis.

This means you need to build collaborative working relationships between the people who work on the projects in your purview and your PMO. This is because:

  • Project teams are responsible for a lot of the data inputs that your PMO needs and are the ones who deliver compliance and governance results.
  • People working on projects are both resources that you need to allocate effectively and people who need to feel comfortable and stable in their work.
  • When project workers buy in to the projects and your PMO, what they deliver will be high-quality and more successful.

Although it is mainly the responsibility of project managers to motivate and manage the people on their projects, your PMO can still contribute to smoother projects.

What can my PMO do to build relationships with project teams?

Leaders in a PMO will already be aware of how to keep their team motivated and happy. Working with teams that you don’t manage directly will require different tactics. You want to have strong engagement with people working on projects and also not step on project managers’ toes.

Here are our four ways you can build strong relationships with project teams.

1.       Connect the dots

There can be negative perceptions about PMOs; that they’re full of bureaucracy or just make it harder to deliver projects. Your PMO exists because those at the top of the business see its value, but you need to communicate it to the project staff.

First, you need to ensure that individual KPIs align with project KPIs and that these all link to the PMO and strategic business objectives. Next, you need to ensure that when each project kicks off that you run a session that covers:

  • The purpose behind the change the project delivers
  • The particulars of precisely what changes the project will deliver
  • The people who will deliver the change and who will be affected

So everyone in the project understands how the business will be improved by their – and your – work.

2.       Consciously design processes

A lot of the processes, workflows, and procedures that your PMO designs will be used in practice by project teams. You need to make sure everything is done with them, the end-user, in mind.

When you need to change any element of the data or actions your PMO needs to perform, try to integrate it into existing processes rather than bring in a whole new task to complete.

Each time you change or amend what you ask a project team to do, you should consult with them to ensure it’s not overly burdensome.

3.       Address project team concerns

Frequently, it can feel like there’s a disconnect or barriers between the PMO and the people working on projects. You can directly engage with the people working on projects quite easily by simply:

  • Have a PMO team member attend a meeting or Scrum regularly
  • Hold a meeting with project workers quarterly or half-yearly to address concerns
  • Have an accessible feedback loop so issues can be raised and resolved quickly

4.       Get hands-on

If you and your PMO team didn’t work on projects before moving into a PMO role, project workers might not have confidence that you understand their role.

Take time to learn about project work with professional development training and spending a full day with a project on a regular basis.

How can a PMO engage with project teams?

By working on your stakeholder relationship between your PMO and your project teams with these four actions, you should see more productive projects and a better understanding of the PMO’s role within the business.