Responsibilities of a Program Management Office

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A program management office (PMO) manages an organization’s portfolio of projects. It provides value to an organization by helping its officials make good decisions about which projects to undertake. The PMO’s expertise in project management tools improves the success rate of projects, which assists the organization in controlling costs.

Prioritize New Projects

Organizations rarely, if ever, have unlimited financial or human resources to spend on projects, so it’s critical that they take on the projects that best fit their strategic goals. The program management office develops the criteria and an evaluation process so those projects with the most benefit to the organization have the highest priority for funding. The evaluation criteria may include such things as the project’s alignment with strategic goals or technical architecture, a risk assessment of the project and estimated project budget.

Develop Project Standards

The program management office develops and maintains a standard project management methodology and tools for the organization. These tools help project managers deliver more consistently successful project results. Reducing project implementation costs through the use of proven project management processes is a key benefit of having a PMO.

Coach Project Managers

Project managers have varying levels of experience. They may need to learn additional skills to manage complex projects or handle new problems they haven’t faced before. When the program management office is a center for training and coaching project managers, the organization benefits from trained team members who are better able to complete their projects successfully. The project managers also benefit by increasing their skill level and depth of knowledge, which may open up new career opportunities.

Review Existing Projects

An effective program management office facilitates ongoing reviews of all projects under way. This review ensures each project is meeting baseline standards so it runs smoothly, such as following the standard methodology and having appropriate stakeholder involvement. The review may highlight areas of risk or interdependence between projects that a project manager may not be aware of on his own. The review also provides key metrics about each project’s status, obstacles and budget, which the PMO uses to communicate the status of the project portfolio to upper management or to the organization’s customers.

Ensure Organizational Learning

Project teams should debrief at the end of each project on the lessons they’ve learned about what worked and what didn’t. The program management office archives this information and also must find effective ways to share this information so project managers throughout the organization can learn from past failures and successes, applying them to new projects.

Facilitate Resource Allocation

Projects often get off track because a project manager is scrambling to get the right people assigned to work on her project. Because the PMO has a big-picture view of all projects, it can help ensure the right people are assigned to the right project at the time needed. This reduces the risk of a project missing key deadlines.

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