Engaging the people who control and oversee your project management office (PMO) is very worthwhile, but when it comes to stakeholder relationships, working effectively with your project managers will yield valuable results.

Working with your PMO’s sponsor ensures that your work is advocated for at the highest level, and engaging with the C-suite will earn you more comprehensive support. However, the results of building strong relationships with your project managers will likely be more tangible but may be harder to achieve.

The role of your PMO is to support project delivery; for this you need PMs on board. To help you build and strengthen this relationship, we’re going to look at:

  • Why it’s important to work with your project managers
  • How you can build deeper engagement and relationships
  • Examples that can help you effectively implement this engagement

Giving you a solid basis to go on to engage with your project teams, which we’ll be covering in the next post.

What are the benefits of strong PMO and project manager relationships?

As a PMO, you can only control so much about projects – a lot of their success will come down to the project manager and the people they lead. Your office will ask a lot of the people leading projects so having a strong and effective relationship will make it easier to get things done when you need it.

Along with having a generally pleasant and productive working environment, here are the reasons you should be working on your PMO and project manager relationships:

  • Your PMs will do a lot of work your office mandates, such as risk assessments, budget tracking, prioritisation scoring. A good relationship with the people you need will ensure things are done well and on time.
  • When you need to bring in new team members into your office, project managers can make great recruits. They know projects, they know how your office works – project managers can make a great addition to your PMO team.
  • Depending on the type of PMO you have, you will be responsible for tasks like training your project managers and governing their work. Good relationships will mean PMs are receptive to training and to complying with requirements.
  • PMs have a direct relationship with their teams and need to get your communications delivered effectively. When you engage with the PMs and help them understand the PMO role, they can better pass that on to their teams.

How can a PMO effectively engage with project managers?

There are lots of ways you can get your PMs engaged with the work your PMO does. Each business will be different and work in different ways, so take these examples as a guide that can steer you in the right direction and adapt them to your office.

Ask for input

Both new and established PMOs will always be working on improving processes, so bring in PMs to that process. In areas like:

You should be canvassing for opinions from your project managers.

Every time you start a process to make a change to your PMO processes, ensure that there is a PM represented in the meetings. This makes them feel their opinion is valued and rollout will be easier.

Provide value to PMs

It may be your PMO’s role to offer training to your PMs, or it may just be a “nice to have”. By allocating money and time to the personal development of your PMs, they will understand that your office values their work.

If it’s not already company policy, begin to get all your project managers certified under the certification scheme you work with. Be sure to support everyone in their continuing development, also.

Offer job swaps with your PMs

There’s great value in cross-fertilising job roles around projects. You can offer your project managers a different perspective on their work and also demonstrate that your PMO is serious about removing barriers in projects.

Offer a scheme where a project manager can spend a week or a day each month shadowing you or another role in your office. This is foster greater understanding and also help widen the recruitment pool.

Working effectively with your project managers

Engaging with project stakeholders is valuable, and effective relationships with PMs is critical to project success. You will see better project outcomes when your PMs understand and appreciate how your office can help and support them, and working across the business should become easier when you have team leaders as advocates.