Just as we all have personal projects, companies constantly have projects to complete too in order to achieve their business objectives, whether they call them that way or not. Generally, large companies have specialized offices and managements to handle their projects, but small and medium-sized companies sometimes simply set a goal and take actions to achieve it based on their own experience and intuition, without knowing that there is a discipline dedicated to the systematic and continuous study of how to manage projects, and guarantee a greater probability of success.
Projects start with an objective to be achieved, a result to be obtained; It could be from opening a virtual business, launching a new product to the market, opening a new branch, to making a total transformation of your business, or building a bridge or a road, in short, projects can be of any nature, size, cost, and implications. To achieve them, we must direct our efforts in that direction, for which a plan is drawn up consisting of specific interrelated and coordinated activities. This plan must specify how the activities will be carried out, with what resources, in how long, with what scope, and all the other factors involved.
Depending on the size of the project, more or less resources may be required, and carrying it out may be simpler or more complex. To help specialists in this discipline, there is the Project Management Institute (PMI), founded in 1969, and the world’s leading organization dedicated to Project Management. This organization is aimed at the comprehensive training of the Project Management professional. There is also PRINCE2, which is a Project Management methodology – initially developed by the UK Office Government of Commerce – that seeks success in the execution of projects. Whether guided by the PMI guidelines or by the PRINCE2 method, the truth is that organizations need professionals qualified in Project Management to guarantee their success, since the results of the project are oriented to add value to the organization, and should not be left to intuition or chance. Hence the importance of a specific area in companies dedicated to this function.
What is a PMO?
A PMO is a Project Management Office, which is the area in the organization in charge of managing projects in a centralized and coordinated manner, to ensure the correct and successful fulfillment of the same, generating added value for the business.
PMOs can be very varied. It can be a management in charge of the direct execution of the various projects of a company, or it can only be in charge of giving guidelines, standards, tools and methodologies to other managers who are directly in charge of the different projects. It can be made up of a team, a single person, or external consultants. It all depends on the type of organization in which it works, especially on the number and type of projects that it handles, and of course, the importance that the company gives to the Project Management. But be that as it may, each project needs someone to assist or take control of the activities, the methodology and the tools, so that other managers can occupy their time in making appropriate decisions without having to worry about the execution of operational tasks.
The PMO will then be responsible for establishing and ensuring compliance with the best practices in the projects of a company or organization, for this, it is in charge of giving the methodological guidelines to manage the project, of providing the tools and formats to be used for adequate documentation as well as the directions for its correct use, and verify it, promoting effective communication, monitoring the different project indicators, ensuring that processes and operations are completed on time and within budget, documenting the lessons learned to capitalize on previous experiences and avoid recurring errors as well as identifying potential risks to be able to take corrective actions on time, as well as potential opportunities, among other functions.
The PMO allows an integrated and unified view of the status of projects, of the value generated by the company’s portfolio of projects, as well as creating a common language among all interested parties, a key factor for the success of projects. And if several projects are carried out, ensure that they all follow the same methodological guidelines. On the other hand, a PMO must also be agile enough to adapt to possible changes in strategy, while facilitating organizational agility so that transformations are sustainable over time. An agile, flexible PMO that allows to deliver results quickly, adaptable to the needs of the uncertain and changing environment of our times. The same implementation of the PMO should also be approached as a project; when there is no Project Management culture, it is common to reject the use of its methodology due to the false feeling that it is an increase in work without adding value; the PMO makes it easier to assimilate this culture.
In this way, implementing a PMO managed by experienced professionals in this discipline results in significant benefits for the business, tangible, repeatable, and long-term benefits, since it allows optimizing the resources of your company, contributing to profitability and the scope of its objectives. A good PMO aligns your strategy with the corporate culture. For this reason, the creation of PMOs, whether with internal or external resources, is an increasingly strong trend in the current business context.