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As ViBuNe’s audience is in principle small and medium businesses it is possible that the Project Management Office (PMO) concept may be useful although unknown to them and requires a bit of introduction.

The Project Management Institute (PMI) has introduced the PMO concept in 2000 referring to Project management processes. The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) Guide defines the PMO as “an organizational body or entity assigned various responsibilities related to the centralized and coordinated management of those projects under its domain. The responsibilities of a PMO can range from providing project management support functions to actually being responsible for the direct management of a project”.

In short, the PMO is an overarching entity responsible for all the aspects of all the projects run by a company. The PMO keeps the business informed whether the projects are delivering the objectives defined by the business on time and within budget. The PMO can be the key to a successful small company to scale up from relationship-based management to process-based management.

For medium businesses, the existence of an internal PMO looks like an extra layer of administrative expenditure. PMO has primarily been implemented in enterprise-like organisations due to budget restrictions and because the decision-makers did not know how and what to choose. Think about what one needs to run an effective PMO: project management methodology, reporting, policies and procedures, templates, coordinate resources, communication, and all possible tools/software associated with them. And let’s not forget about having all of these, or at least the majority, integrated with other tools/software used by the business (i.e., integration with Customer Relationship Management [CRM]) and the time to train people required to use all these tools.

This seems to be a lot of trouble and many will say, “why bother, I worked in the past without it, I used an excel file and I can continue the same”. It’s not that simple, whether you like it or not, in one way, your business is using the PMO principles in a disorganised way and as a result, I guarantee your business suffers.

The biggest problem is how to choose the right tools/software, templates and how can you, as a business owner, integrate the PMO within your organisation without too much trouble and with a reasonable budget.

I remember the first year I arrived in Australia in 1992. At that time, I was a geophysicist (MD) with 10 years of experience, but zero local experience. I could not find a job because nobody knew whether I was good or bad; companies preferred and still continue to hire people with local experience who had at least someone to vouch for them.

The same should apply to choosing a solution for the PMO – businesses, if they know what they are doing, will choose a solution that they know what to expect from; someone else has already tried it and it works for the business. Or they can listen to a sales pitch that will sell a ‘brilliant solution for whatever your budget is without mentioning the small print and catching you on a contract for several years. When choosing a solution, it’s better to do proper due diligence, research, not just one product. Ask around and decide when you’re absolutely sure that solution matches your business needs. It may be a complicated way, considering that most business owners do not have the time to do that and they may rely upon someone else’s advice. Be sharp, ask any question that you think maybe beneficial, and don’t decide in a rush.

In my next post, I’ll present a few tools that I used and compare them with their pros and cons. I hope that can reduce the due diligence time and help you choose the right tool(s) for your business. Until then think about whether adding a PMO structure to your business may be a good idea.

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