My kids were always asking impossible questions like “Which came first, chicken or egg?”, “Is soup a food or a drink?”, “If the Universe was created by a big bang, what existed before it?” And “If it’s ever expanding, what’s outside it?”
I have one to add, just as difficult to answer – “What’s the one contribution or function that defines a Project Management Office (PMO)?”
If you tried to define what a PMO does, you could ask a thousand organisations, and you’d struggle to distil the feedback into a single succinct elevator pitch.
And that’s the beauty of a PMO, isn’t it? One size, one definition doesn’t fit all. A PMO is not an out of the box, off the peg facility. It flexes to be exactly what your project or organisation needs it to be.
Definition of a PMO
During a recent ‘stock take’ of Stoneseed’s Project Management as a Service (PMaaS), we turned our attention to our PMO Services, with a view to creating a brochure. Easy, right?!
Actually, defining the benefits of a PMO was easy: quality; consistency; governance; control; better resource allocation; greater ROI: etc.
Defining the specific role of a PMO was harder – and that’s the beauty of a PMO isn’t it? Whatever your project needs, the PMO will deliver. That’s certainly how our PMO service offer has evolved. In the end, the closest we could get to a single definition was “The PMO is the beating heart of every successful project”.
Definition of a PMO
We’re not alone. The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) defines a PMO as, “An organisational structure that standardises the project-related governance processes and facilitates the sharing of resources, methodologies, tools and techniques.”
Did you notice that, again, the roles of a PMO are not specifically defined? In fact, check out PRINCE2’s definition, or that of the International Project Management Association (IPMA), like PMBOK, at least last time I checked, nobody really defines the roles of a PMO – you’d be at it forever!
Even the Project Management Institute (PMI), in their most recent edition of ‘The Standard for Program Management – Third Edition’, are fabulously vague! “The organisation responsible for defining and managing the program-related governance process, procedures, templates, etc. supporting individual program management teams by handling administrative functions centrally, or providing dedicated assistance to the Program Manager,” they say.
The PMI ‘clarify’ further – the “role of the Program Management Office is to support the program manager by:
- Defining the program management processes and procedures that will be followed,
- Supporting the management of the schedule and budget at the program level,
- Defining the quality standards for the program and for the program’s components,
- Supporting effective resource management across the program,
- Providing document and configuration management (knowledge management), and
- Providing centralized support for managing changes and tracking risks and issues”
Clear? That’s OK. No-one really is! That’s why, sometimes, you need PMO expert advice – maybe from someone with a new brochure? (Just saying!)
‘Dress’ Your PMO To Suit Your Business Climate
So, the roles and responsibilities of your PMO are up to you and your individual organisational needs. Paradoxically though, the PMO isn’t a totally blank canvass, as the PMI identify, there are common roles that span most PMO’s – but they do not define it!
I compare the PMO to my wardrobe. We all have a wardrobe; they all have the same basic function – to clothe us and stop us getting arrested when we leave the house.
The specific role of my wardrobe is different though, from season to season, even hour to hour some days! Today, it’s quite warm so I’m in t-shirt and shorts as I write this but it’s getting cooler at night so by this evening, I’ll have a jumper on to stay warm – before long I’ll be in a scarf and big coat. My friends in Australia, Canada and Dubai have wardrobes too and, although theirs have that same basic function, they’ll pull out different clothes to me – to suit their climates.
Sometimes, as fashion conscious as I clearly am, even I need expert advice on what I need to pull from the wardrobe (“You’re thinking of wearing that jumper are you?”/ “Vertical stripes would be more slimming” / “Are you getting changed before we go out?” (I’d just got changed) ~ My wife, ad infinitum.
Sometimes, you need expert PMO advice.
When we created and evolved Stoneseed’s PMO Services, this requirement for flexibility and an almost contradictory need for steadfast, reliability, were front and centre of our minds.
Stoneseed’s PMO is the backbone of our PMaaS and every service we can deliver. At the same time, it’s totally mouldable to individual organisational need. There are different types of PMO, seemingly infinite levels of service, but each has, at its core, desire to deliver similar benefits, i.e., quality, consistency, governance, control, resourcing, ROI, etc.
Stoneseed’s PMO can flex and adapt to suit your needs, perhaps you need help with onboarding or recruitment, project and cost control, governance or resourcing, or a mix of these and others or a full-service provision. Perhaps you have a PMO which you wish to refine or improve, we offer consultancy and assessment, benchmarking and mapping
Stoneseed’s PMO is the piece that will fit any jigsaw.
Project Management as a Service – At your service
At Stoneseed, we are very proud of the ever-evolving Project Management Office resources that we can offer. Onsite, Stoneseed can provide anything from individual PMO resources to a full PMO service (or any level in between) and this is all available remotely too via our Virtual Project Management Office.
The provision of PMO support, project support and even a full PMO service, virtually via VPMO, has been very popular over the last 18 months and, with many businesses adopting a hybrid approach to work, it is a success story that we expect to continue and grow.
Although the VPMO service really came into its own during the pandemic, it was not a reaction to it. In fact, we were experts in Remote Access Project Management, offering rapid response resources, years before remote working became a necessity and so we were well placed to respond when clients looked for alternatives to an onsite service.
Onsite or remotely, you can align resources as and when you need them, on a cost effective, full-time or part-time basis.
Virtual PMO can also be used as the starting point for establishing and evolving your Project Management capability. We offer three service levels of PMO, each of which build upon each other, so that you can tailor VPMO to suit your project support needs.
“The simplicity of the rate card and commercial model for PMaaS allows for easy budgeting of my portfolio costs.” – Michael Euston, Head of Change at Close Brothers Motor Finance.
We love this quote from Michael, it sums up Stoneseed’s client-side approach. From strategy to service delivery, Stoneseed’s PMaaS and PMO provision is a cost-effective model for project delivery. It is underpinned by Stoneseed’s methodology and toolset but is flexible enough that it can adapt to work with yours.
Stoneseed employs a team of Project Management and Technical Professionals, with experience of many industries and sectors and like all Stoneseed’s PMaaS services, Project Managers, Business Analysts and PMO experts are available onsite or remote, delivering services through a flexible, on-demand resourcing model and, as Michael at Close Brothers identifies, Stoneseed’s commercial model makes budgeting and balancing your project portfolio finances so much easier.
Enhancing Your Existing PMO and Stoneseed’s Consultancy Services
I remember, years ago, a neighbour being persuaded by a passing salesman to rip out their wooden double glazing and conservatory and replace both with uPVC alternatives at a cost of thousands of pounds. Then a chance meeting in the pub with a man in the business meant they got a second opinion! It turned out that most of what they were about to replace could be repaired and just the roof of the conservatory needed substituting. That random meeting in the pub saved them over ten thousand pounds.
Why share this? Well, this lesson stuck with me, and I think it may have helped form our approach to Stoneseed’s PMO Services. Why buy in a full service, end to end, PMO if you have inhouse provision? Metaphorically, the structure of your PMO may be sound but like my neighbour’s conservatory roof, you may have a few leaks. Stoneseed’s PMO Assessment can identify the capability gaps where you’re leaking value and provide resources to bridge them.
Experienced multi-industry, multi sector project professionals with multi-methodology & tool set expertise can offer all levels of consultancy including benchmarking and assessments; development of road maps; establishment of tailored PMO handbooks; governance and tools set selection; PPM tool selection; Project online support/roll out; Resource Management System (RMS) … actually it’s a long list. Let’s talk about what you need!
Let’s Talk About What You Need!
Whether you have a simple resource requirement, want to discuss a scheduling, resources technology requirement, help with PPM tool selection or enhancing your PMO – let’s talk.
Your IT project problem is Stoneseed’s passion, this is what we do. Arrange a call or meeting to tell us what you do and what you need and let’s align your challenges with our solutions!