By Kathy Martucci, PMP

The answer is “NO” according to Kendall and Rollins, who co-wrote Advanced Project Portfolio Management and the PMO: Multiplying ROI at Warp Speed.

They state:

Without a PMO, it becomes every function for itself, with the CEO trying to referee. However, most CEOs do not have the time, patience or project management skills to track all of the organization’s projects against the organization’s goals… The worst shock of all from senior executives is to find out how many active projects are not directly tied to any of the organization’s strategic goals.”

Let’s examine some ways that the Project Management Office (PMO) can contribute to the success of an organization’s project portfolio management (PPM) approach.

Project Management Know-How

Armed with the detailed knowledge of projects and programs and how they align to organizational strategy, the PMO has the project management expertise to plan, execute and manage projects with predicted risks and outcomes.

If an organization only has people with a savvy business perspective but no project management experience involved in the portfolio management process, they may only consider business factors such as ROI when composing and balancing the portfolio. However, if there is someone on the team who really understands project management, they will take into account risk management and mitigation concerns.

Deep Understanding of Projects

It is the PMO that has the details of each and every project undertaken by the organization.

Although it is clear that it is executive management who determine the organizational mission and strategic business goals, the translation of this high level direction into an optimum mix of projects (the portfolio) takes more than a top-down executive perspective.

The PMO provides advice to the governance group throughout the PPM process, from reviewing initial business cases to identifying whether the investment is likely to succeed and reporting project performance, resource utilization and lessons learned.

Consider providing this information to executive management from each individual project manager instead of a PMO. Starting with the advantage of a single source of the truth, project information provided should be relevant, objective and accurate to support effective decision-making.

Knowledge of Required and Available Skill Sets

As part of the project evaluation criteria, the PMO can analyze whether the skills of available team members align with the company’s strategic goals and can identify any gaps.

While it is executive management that has the big business picture and performs resource allocations from a global perspective, it is the PMO who understands what skill sets are needed on projects and when. PMO experts look across the project portfolio, adjusting schedules to avoid overburdening some resources while others remain idle. The PMO can conduct a variety of resource management activities including forecasting, multi-project scheduling and planning to address project and resource interdependencies.

Access to Customers

The PMO is more familiar with the organization’s project customers.

PMI®’s Pulse of the Profession™ In-Depth Report: Portfolio Management reported that 73% of organizations employ PPM for increased customer satisfaction. Running projects with a high-performing PMO means more projects come in on time, on budget and with their objectives achieved.

Higher customer satisfaction means better collaboration and more predictable results. Consistently executing better project delivery and earning customer trust creates a cycle of collaboration that, in turn, creates even more project success. Repeatable successes, better resource usage and more projects coming in on time cannot help but give the organization a competitive edge.

Can your organization do without a PMO?