The Value of a PMO

David Overcash

January 7, 2019
A program management office (PMO) is a cost center. It doesn’t generate revenue. It’s not a tool to drive customers to purchase from your company. It’s not a unique differentiator in the marketplace.   So, why is a PMO important?   A PMO provides a single place to report status, identify problems, and develop remediation.  Leveraging reporting tools, established processes, and training, a PMO reduces rework and inconsistency.   Government projects, cloud migration projects, data center builds, enterprise-wide system implementations – we’ve implemented them in all and seen a number of commonalities. The PMO allows solution’s to happen early and amongst peers who may have experienced similar situations. Formal communication also provides greater assurance issues won’t slip through the cracks.   At CORTAC, our management consultants have seen how a PMO increases odds of successful program outcomes by establishing:  
  1. Standardization – Program Managers bring their own experience, tools, and methodologies. A PMO will ensure consistency and controls in templates and reporting formats – reducing rework. It will also establish a rhythm of the business or cadence with the project teams, sponsors, and executive management.
  2. Planning and Prioritization – A consistent strategy of executing and prioritizing projects will reduce churn and cost associated with time waste.
  3. Risk Management – Consolidated reporting and analysis means a systemic or issue can be identified early. Insight from the PMO will identify commonalities across the ecosystem and drive resolution.
  4. Scalability – A more mature organization be looking for consistency, predictability, and timely delivery to market. Guardrails and assessment of increased load is vital to support the goal of maintaining margins.
  5. Centralized Change Management – The PMO will define best practices to change scope, cost, resources, or schedule. This allows management to assess risk and buy-in or identify alternative solutions.
  6. Organizational Change Support – Every project should include an organizational change management framework. This will assess the effect of change on people, how they’ll be communicated with, and trained them for the future state. Impacts of change are unpredictable. A PMO can create an environment to accentuate the positive, which will marginalize the negative effects on people. reducing unproductive churn and improving adoption.
  7. Governance – Guiding management’s expectation of updates on projects should be in a PMO’s Charter. The PMO will work with the governance board to communicate where the projects are moving forward. Additionally, a governance board can provide input, resources, or direct process improvement.
  8. Process Improvement and Metrics – A sophisticated PMO will evaluate, measure, and define success of the programs. “You can’t improve what you don’t measure” is an old axiom. The PMO should be leading the charge in enhancing and evaluating success.
  The PMO establishes the necessary rigor to communicate across a large organization. It will reduce the churn and inefficiency of rework and non-standard processes. Whether added speed to market or increased productivity – a PMO contributes to the bottom line.   And penny saved is a penny earned – for your shareholders.