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Deciphering the Project Management Office

In the world of project management, the Project Management Office (PMO) has become a highly valued necessity.

In some industries, such as wireless telecommunications construction, the PMO is an exception rather than the rule. Its role and purpose are often misunderstood, and even challenged by the very project managers the PMO exists to serve and support.

The primary reason for PMO scarcity is that few organizations understand what a PMO brings to an organization. The functions of the PMO and Project Managers are often conflated, and since Project Managers are already in-place, a PMO seems redundant and unnecessary.

In fact, Project Managers may be the most outspoken opponent of the PMO – until they learn how the PMO supports them and their projects. Within a healthy PMO, the primary responsibility for managing the project rests with the Project Manager while the PMO provides support, tools, and governance that allow them to perform at their best.

What Does the PMO Do?

The PMO is so much more than an administrative function. It manages, supports, and develops standards, education, and continuous improvement. These standards and educational opportunities improve the efficiency and effectiveness of every Project Manager.

Many Project Managers spend their days in the field, jumping between field sites, vendors, suppliers, and customers, all to keep projects running smoothly by removing roadblocks and facilitating task completion.

It can be challenging to get all of the information gathered in the field back to the home office and receive feedback. The PMO bridges the space between remote Project Managers and the home office by providing communication and collaboration support and linking those in the field with those in the office.

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How Does the PMO Support Project Managers?

The PMO provides Project Managers with support, mentorship, education, guidance, and governance.
Project Managers often have extensive reporting requirements that may keep them tied to a desk when they should be in the field. The PMO can step in to alleviate some of this burden by sharing knowledge and getting requests from the field to the right person in the office.

Project Managers also rely on the PMO to provide reporting and documentation support, which enables them to do more of the work they love.

Getting Project Managers Acclimated with the PMO

From their first day on the job, Project Managers should spend time in the PMO to learn about all of the resources that are available and ensure that they are thoroughly trained on all of the tools the company uses, ensuring that they are educated and ready to go from day one.

As the PM starts in the field, the PMO provides constant check-in and support for the first 90 days, after which the PM can be assigned a local mentor who provides support and guides the project manager past potential pitfalls.

The PMO also has the ability to provide Project Managers with required certified training in the first 30 days of employment – more than many might receive in a year of employment. The scalable, flexible design of the PMO allows Project Managers to access industry standards and best practices from anywhere in the field or the office. With the backing of the PMO, Project Managers have the resources they need to implement and adhere to the highest quality standards.

Realizing New Efficiencies

Implementing a PMO has the capacity to bring in both expected and unexpected efficiencies.

While more efficient project management can certainly be expected from the additional reporting support, PMOs can also prompt an overwhelming change in the atmosphere of everyday work, spurring a greater sense of connection between the home office and remote workers. The PMO can give field workers a renewed passion for growth that allows the project management teams to tap into existing staff and allocate more bandwidth to mentoring co-workers and building relationships within and increasing the overall capacity of teams.

What Does the PMO Mean to Customers?

The PMO has dramatic, positive implications for customers as well, as they experience increased communication on individual projects and better understanding of overall priorities and project status updates. Since the PMO provides reporting support, customers can expect to receive project updates that include their specific metrics, requirements, and measures of success, leading to increased transparency and greater customer satisfaction.

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