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Understanding PMO Roles and Responsibilities

written by: N Nayab • edited by: Rebecca Scudder • updated: 4/28/2010

A correct understanding of PMO (Project Management Office) Roles and Responsibilities help organizations plan and execute projects in a better way.

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    The Scope of PMO

    Project Management Office 

    The Project Management Office (PMO) is a centralized management structure for a group of projects in an organization, aimed at ensuring standardization, reducing duplication and leveraging resources such as people, technology, and communication.

    The major role of the PMO is to define and maintain process standards by providing a framework to establish standard performance measures based on organizational goals and objectives, and providing tools and procedures to achieve this. This translates into three key areas:

    • Establishing Project Methodologies
    • Project Tracking, and
    • Project Support
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    Establishing Project Methodologies

    One of the major PMO roles include providing a program baseline or the “road map” for implementation of a project.

    The PMO makes an estimate of the size of the project, the time and resources the project requires and lays down the project methodologies through many PMO tools and instruments:

    • Program Charter provides an overall vision of the program goals and objectives to the team members;
    • Work Plans lay down detailed schedules of activities, milestones, and deliverables of the project team, and identifies the resources available;
    • Governance Plan identifies the roles and responsibilities of each member of the project team;
    • Work Breakdown Structure defines the specific deliverables due from each team member, at each stage of the project;
    • Communication Plan establishes the protocol, procedure, and methods to communicate project information and issues among members of the team;
    • Forms and Templates simplify communication, record-keeping and reporting;
    • Risk Analysis lists out potential problems and chances of deviance from the project methodology, the probability of such occurrences, the possible impact, and possible solutions.

    When preparing the program charter, the most critical of PMO responsibilities is to ensure that the project bases itself on accepted industry standard methodologies such as PMBOK or PRINCE2.

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    Project Tracking

    PMO Roles and Responsibilities extend to auditing or tracking ongoing projects at regular intervals to ensure projects are on course and follow the approved methodology.

    The PMO establishes a project management governance structure that includes key performance indicators and sets milestones for the project team.

    The PMO usually tracks projects in a three-step cycle:

    1. Collecting Program Status Information, an update cycle of work plans, issues and changes, collected from project leads at routine intervals, usually every two weeks;
    2. Consolidation and analysis of the data collected from program status information, comparing results with baseline and communicating status to the management for review;
    3. Implementing Corrective Action, if required, as decided by the management through the process of change management.

    During the course of project tracking, PMO has the responsibility to gather and archive project experience and reusable data to improve project management methods in the future.

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    Project Support

    Apart from defining, maintaining, and managing the project processes, the PMO roles and responsibilities include providing support for the smooth execution of the project.

    • The PMO provides a centralized customer focused office that not only plan, negotiate and analyze projects, but also redress the project related concerns of the client, sponsor, and staff;
    • The PMO develops a team of competent project managers through training and mentoring. Such project managers ensure implementation and maintenance of the project methodology and retain the team members’ focus on the tasks in hand;
    • The PMO provides training in project management and the applied project tools to team members;
    • The PMO provides in-house consultancy services to the project team on project related issues.

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    Conclusion

    The exact roles and responsibility of the PMO varies among organizations, depending on organizational needs and the nature of projects executed by the organization. A proper application of PMO nevertheless enables the organization to undertake quality work with lesser resources, lesser risk, and lesser costs.

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    References

    • Piscopo, Mark. (15 April 2009) Building a Project Management Office. Retrieved from http://www.projectsmart.co.uk/building-a-project-management-office.html
    • Jucan, George. (1 May 2006). Defining Roles for IT Governance. Retrieved from http://www.gantthead.com/content/articles/231020.cfm

    Image Credit: EverJean. http://www.flickr.com/photos/evert-jan/