Projects and the work of your project management office (PMO) can feel somewhat removed from the day-to-day operations in the business. Building stakeholder relationships and engagement between the wider business and your PMO can ensure that your office remains relevant.

Whilst not every business unit will be a stakeholder in every project your office manages, establishing relationships at an early stage will have benefits. To understand the value of engaging with different business units, we’re going to be looking at:

  • The benefits to your PMO of engaging with other business units
  • How you can increase engagement across the business
  • Effective examples that you can use to create more engagement with your PMO

Meaning you’ll have strong relationships in place when you come to need them.

Why should I build relationships between my PMO and the wider business?

There is clear logic to establishing engagement and relationships at the top of the business with the C-suite and your sponsor, and down the chain with project managers and project teams. Being able to have positive interactions further out in the business will reap rewards for you.

Your PMO will need to work with a range of departments, such as finance, legal, and IT for multiple reasons, so here’s why you need to have strong relationships in place:

  • Other business areas enable your office and projects to be a success in terms of providing people and skills, budgets, training, advice, and other resources.
  • At some point, there will be a project going through your office that affect every business area; an established relationship will make the change much easier.
  • Across the business, there will be different talents and knowledge that your office can tap into to improve your ways of working – you can even share out your own best practices.

Plus, there’s always value in having a strong network of colleagues across the business for your own personal development.

How can I increase engagement between my PMO and the wider business?

It’s a long process to build relationships and awareness of the work that your PMO does across the business. Here are the steps you can take to ensure you can interact across the business you’re in smoothly and effectively.

Demonstrate strategic relevance

Negative perceptions of PMOs say that they’re paper pushers and don’t add value. Your office needs to work to combat such ideas about the work you do and make sure everyone can see the benefit you bring to the business.

Let the whole business know when projects are completed successfully – and assign credit properly to project managers and their team – and deliver a breakdown of project outcomes regularly. This should be part of an effective communication strategy.

Build communities

Whatever role you have in your PMO, you need to build a network in the business. Connecting with people on the same level as you in different areas means you can push through changes much easier. There is great value in personal relationships.

Networking comes in many forms. Consider creating an informal or formal community, by doing things like:

  • Scheduling a monthly or quarterly working lunch
  • Creating a Slack thread or messaging group
  • Running regular webinars where each business area leads a session

These actions will not only benefit your PMO by helping get work done it can also contribute to your wider positive reputation within the business.

Involve business areas in projects

If you try to enforce a project on to a business area, it’s likely to meet resistance. When you bring in people at the earliest stage of a project, they will buy-in to the change you’re bringing to their area.

There are lots of parts of a project that you can ask for input from stakeholders, so be sure that you bring in leaders from across the business – don’t have them as an afterthought. Processes you involved the wider business in include:

Invite pitches

Particularly if your PMO is enterprise-focussed, you will have a lot of control over which project get commissioned in the business. With the power to set the direction of projects, you can use this to engage the wider business in your work.

As well as ensuring everyone in the business is aware that you’re open to project suggestions, you can run a regular project pitching session. Invite leaders from across the business to pitch a project to your PMO and ensure that the pitcher gets timely feedback.

How to engage the wider business with your PMO

You should work on raising the profile of your PMO and establishing relationships and engagement across the wider business with your PMO to ensure the smooth delivery of your projects. You’ll get less pushback when people can see the value in your office’s work and how they can contribute to its success.