Career Development

FAQ: When Do You Need a PMO and What Are the Benefits?

July 22, 2021

A project management office can help increase productivity levels for a project team by providing planning, organization and leadership. Even if a company's project management teams are efficient, it may want a PMO for other reasons, such as improving time management or company alignment. It's important to learn about project management offices before you invest in one for your company. In this article, we answer some frequently asked questions about PMOs, including what it is, who uses it, when you need one and what their benefits and drawbacks are.

What is a PMO?

A PMO, or project management office, is a group of people who guide and oversee project management for a company. This group helps standardize projects for an organization and implements best practices for project management. PMOs can lead project managers by holding meetings or performance reviews to ensure project managers are guiding their teams efficiently. They can also handle both current and future projects for companies. Some tasks of a PMO include:

  • Aligning projects with the company's vision
  • Training project managers
  • Standardizing methods and procedures
  • Creating project proposals
  • Increasing visibility of project processes

Read more: What Is a PMO and What Does It Do?

Who uses PMOs?

A company with product or project teams might have a PMO to oversee processes. Companies or businesses that handle multiple projects may also use a PMO, which can delegate projects to the company's teams or prioritize which projects the teams should complete first. Large companies might use PMOs to help organize their project processes, while smaller companies might use PMOs to further expand their businesses.

When do you need a PMO?

Here are some reasons you might use a PMO:

Better collaboration

A PMO can ensure or improve unity and collaboration among team members or between teams. While independence can be a valuable quality, project teams often succeed through collaboration. PMOs can increase collaboration because they encourage project managers to work more closely with their team members. They may do this by assigning team projects or asking project managers to have more meetings with their teams.

Better accountability

A PMO can help increase accountability by performing team evaluations, which can help keep team members accountable for their responsibilities. PMOs can also create project budgets for better financial accountability and communicate with customers about the company's products to establish quality and ensure customer satisfaction.

Related: Understanding the Project Management Processes and Phases

Better transparency

PMOs can help your project teams have better transparency. Projects often require visibility and transparency among project teams, other departments and stakeholders. PMOs can communicate with teams and team members about their tasks and with stakeholders about the projects' progress, which can help promote visibility. If everyone is aware of project processes, they may better understand how to complete the task or what the project may involve.

Better time management

A PMO organizes and delegates individual tasks so that project teams can complete projects by their deadlines. A smaller workload can be more manageable for team members, so they may get more work done more quickly. Having better time management skills can also help increase a team's overall productivity levels.

Better company alignment

PMOs can help ensure projects align with the company or brand and that multiple projects are coherent with each other. They do this by overseeing and planning each project according to the company's vision or intended message. For example, if the company wants to make commercials to promote a product, the PMO might ensure the producers align the commercials with the company's overall tone.

Related: A Complete Guide to Project Management

What are the benefits of PMOs?

Here are some potential benefits of having a PMO:

Increased leadership

A PMO can provide project teams and project managers with additional leadership because the PMO handles more tasks and responsibilities while guiding what the project team does. They strategize and plan projects, which can help the project team execute their roles. PMOs track multiple projects' processes and developments, ensuring their teams complete tasks on time. They also motivate and encourage team members, which can increase satisfaction within the team.

Improved adaptability

Another key role of a PMO is improving adaptability among the projects and within the teams. This means that if challenges occur, the PMO is flexible and can usually change something or adapt processes to resolve an issue. They may also create alternative plans to resolve potential issues in advance, such as creating a more efficient project process.

Minimized errors

A PMO can help to reduce errors or mistakes because they may provide an extra level of protection and maintenance for project processes. Since they specifically oversee projects, PMOs can identify and fix mistakes as they happen or sometimes before they happen. PMOs can ensure standardization among projects, which may help decrease errors because if project teams repeatedly use effective processes, mistakes may be less likely to occur.

Better productivity

One of the main reasons to have a PMO is to increase team productivity. PMOs often prioritize important deadlines and delegate tasks to team members to ensure the completion of projects runs smoothly and efficiently. They can run tests on projects to see if a certain process works better than others. A PMO might also hold meetings or send surveys to the project team to ask for feedback about increasing the team's productivity levels.

Related: PMO Role: Definition and Key Functions

What are the drawbacks of PMOs?

Although PMOs provide a lot of valuable assets to a company, they also can have some drawbacks, including:

  • Less relevancy: PMOs may become less relevant because of technology and artificial intelligence that completes similar tasks, such as project management tools or programs. However, PMOs can communicate directly with team members, give presentations to stakeholders and answer questions regarding projects or teams.
  • Added costs: Hiring a PMO can require additional costs because hiring people and providing resources and tools for them costs money. However, because a PMO can focus on improving quality and quantity of projects, it can ultimately increase the company's sales.
  • Resistance to change: Project teams and managers may prefer their own project management styles over the PMO's methods. To reduce this resistance to change, the PMO can communicate with project teams to build positive relationships. Once the PMO shows its value to the company, the project teams may be more likely to collaborate with them.

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