Project Management Offices (PMOs) are underutilized in the public sector, but can have significant impact on the efficiency of these government agencies. As the public demands more for its tax dollars, and governments put in place austerity measures, public sector organizations have had to tighten up. With a good PMO, an agency is able to deliver more, with greater efficiency.
Close alignment to organizational goals
Unless a PMO is aligned to the agency’s overall strategy and goals, it is destined to under-perform. The team must first identify the role the PMO is expected to play in the organization. Once done, its roles and responsibilities can be clearly laid out. Strategic PMOs now function as businesses with the business, allowing them to bring private sector efficiencies and methods to otherwise bureaucratic environs.
Public sector enterprises often work with budget constraints and limited resources. A good project plan with all variables factored in can help accurately estimate spends and spot attention areas. It will also estimate the resources needed to execute a project. This helps with budgeting and planning for the future.
Centralized project management software
With several stakeholders, bureaucracy and a lot of red tape to cut through, public sector PMOs can save themselves a lot of time and money with a robust software system for project management. With the relevant systems online, accountability and transparency are also taken care of.
Measures and metrics
The PMO in a public sector set up, as with its private sector counterparts must have a way to track projects. Monitoring projects to check for deviation from timelines and goals becomes even more important in the face of budget cuts and possible public ire from delays. These metrics and measures must be mappable to executive friendly reports so that updates can be shared from time to time.
Listening to the ‘customer’ is as important in public sector undertakings, as it is for private firms. Present plans to possibly skeptical customers and actively engage them in discussions. See if the plan aligns with their needs and overall organizational goals. Be open to listening. Review and adapt the plan to factor in their feedback. This will also help you get their buy-in and approval on projects.
A strong leader
The success of public sector PMOs hinges on having the right people. And none is more important than the person who steers the boat on the PMO front. A good leader needs to be assertive and should be able to hold his own with people in positions of authority. Besides his own negotiation skills and technical know-how, he should also have credibility within the system so that he (and the PMO) get the respect and leeway they need.
His influence must cut across agencies in the public sector organization. These units may traditionally have operated in silos, with minimal interaction. For complex projects involving inter-dependencies, the PMO leader’s role will be to get lines of communication going so collaborative projects can work. He will also need to keep the public interests in mind while ensuring seamless execution of projects, even with changes of senior level leadership in agencies. He will need to be the glue that holds it all together.