As a relatively new official participant in the PMO process at work, I found Chapters 3 of the textbook very interesting. It helped me to think about how the PMO team is organized at my own company and inherent strengths and weaknesses. As I shared in class, I joined my first Project Proposal meeting a few weeks ago whereby business owners presented to senior staff the list of projects that we wanted to propose the PMO team take on for the next several months. Participating in this process made me think about how PMO should be organized versus how it currently is organized.
Because my project was approved, I am now an official project sponsor (although I have participated as an informal project sponsor in the past). We have a dedicated project team at my workplace, who work full-time on a long list of projects throughout the year. As a project is approved, the project manager from the PMO office assumes the role of facilitator to drive completion of the project. Personnel from different departments are tapped to participate in the project, although we do not officially separate from our normal jobs to complete it. This can be challenging, because the tasks by definition are complicated, involved (otherwise they wouldn’t be approved as a PMO project) and can quickly take over your day/week/month.
We seem to blend elements of the functional organization of PMO with a dedicated team approach. All of the strengths of functional organization, including easy post-project transition, in-depth expertise, flexibility and no change in the overall company structure are present. We also are able to tap into a few of the strengths of a dedicated team approach, including cross-functional integration and cohesiveness. However, this blended approach doesn’t allow for fast or simple completion of projects. It also can contribute to a lack of ownership and make integration a challenge. The PMO office then can turn into task masters, only concerned with keeping the project on schedule. A blended approach does reap benefits of both structures, but the PMO leadership must be very strong to assure those benefits are fully realized.