The Case for the Programme/Project Management Office

Henry Bennett

It's a team effort.

In a recent conversation with a group of battle hardened PMs our attention focused on the coordination of change activities within the enterprise and how this might be better managed with programme management tools. They were also commenting on the need to provide data to their executives without major rework.

Truth is that systems and technology are now able to monitor and measure so many data points that it can be difficult to see the wood for the trees. We need a dose of good forestry management and sound judgement. Some judicial pruning will help to prioritise and rank the importance of indicators throughout the enterprise. In effect, we need a top down approach to coordinating this enterprise wide effort.

The ultra-competitive business world we find ourselves in today favours the lean and responsive organisations that understand change is way of life. Multiple cross-departmental projects are almost always in some state of flux. With decisions needed to be made on which ones should be completed and in what priority. A weak link in that mesh undermines the whole enterprise. There has never been a time when it is more important to take a coordinated approach. The enterprise stands stronger if we all succeed.

It makes sense in so many ways. I mean, you wouldn't expect your favourite sports team to be a success on the playing field if there was no serious coordination between the offence and defence. There needs to be a common understanding of the strategy as well as the changes that need to happen if the opposition forces a change of tactics. Communication between the players needs to concise and precise.

The term PMO (Programme/Project Management Office) has been given to this coordination activity. The PMO is able to provide clarity of vision, create links between the project teams, establish common standards in methods and reporting, create a shared knowledge base and foster a collaborative environment. In doing so it will also create a more dynamic and responsive team who is better able to react to the inevitable laws of unintended consequence while delivering to the goals of the business.