The beginning of a project management office is driven by the desire to standardize as well as improve the success rate of IT projects and businesses, which continue to expand in size and complexity. Another project management office driver is the requirement to relieve the project managers of administrative duties that are associated with the successful management of projects.

Functions of project office could either be staffed or virtual. A number of forward-thinking companies are mixing the two strategies and using the project office for supporting the tactical, operational and strategic objectives. The staff of the project office is made up of both just-in-time and dedicated personnel.

Project management office functions

A developed project office offers many functions. From the corporate perspective, the project office is considered as a center of excellence. Individuals who staff such project offices must be trained and experienced in leadership skills and advanced management. The six ways to re-engineer the project management office are:

Training for particular needs

The project office needs to concern itself with relevant training and consistency. Apart from fulfilling staffing requirements, the project office must offer training for complete range of needs of the project teams and managers.

Best management techniques and standards

The processes of project management are refined, implemented, used and developed all over the organization by the office as a part of best management practices. The lessons learned during the process are stored in repositories for utilization during subsequent projects, thereby mitigating the risks and reducing the cycle time.

Project administration

In a majority of organizations, project management is synonymous with scheduling. The project office, along with scheduling, must also engage in resource estimation, project control, project planning, contracting and procurement, administrative support and variance analysis.

Project mentoring and consulting

A number of organizations are utilizing mentoring or consulting to complement and supplement their training in formal project management. The consultants or mentors may develop a strong relationship with the project managers if they inject value to the project. This embeds continuous improvement and learning into the corporate norms of the organization.

Project managers

Any project office makes an ideal place to maintain a project manager pool. The managers assigned to to a project office can be sent there for job performance, job assignments and career development. Project managers can utilize the down time to increase their pace of personal development by attending relevant training courses. In essence, it offers a dynamic model when it comes to performance management.

Client considerations

Functions listed previously represent a cross-sectional view of the functionality of a project management office (PMO). It is of utmost importance that the empirical functionality should be considered before development and implementation of PMO. If the end-state model is not planned first, development of methods, tools and processes will be interrupted.

The use of an experienced project management organization which understands the operational, tactical and strategical interfaces of project management would lessen the overload of PMO resources. It will assist in redirection and control of cultural repercussions, which are always present in such a change-centric effort.