Are you getting the most out of your Head of PMO?
Many organisations are failing to get all of the value they could from their Head of PMO. This role can be a key factor in making the entire organisation more effective; it's all a question of the interface between the PMO and the rest of the business.
Too often, a PMO is seen as a separate part of the organisation with a role limited to projects and programmes and nothing to do with the everyday business that preoccupies everyone else. Some PMOs behave like this, stowed away in the bottom of the building or down an obscure corridor, they surround themselves with charts, forecasts and budget reports that their colleagues find impenetrable. Much information goes into the PMO but only a few incomprehensible reports come out.
If this has been your experience of a PMO, you are probably in an organisation that is not demanding enough of the Head of PMO. So what should you be asking of them?
1. Strategic thinking
The other PMO roles, such as PMO manager, project administrator and so on, are there to gather information from projects. They use it to inform management about progress, budgets, risks, milestone achievements, schedules and other programme matters. They'll also be taking a look forward for each project and programme, to forecast whether it is likely to finish on time and within budget, having achieved its aims.
However, this is a fairly restricted view of the world. It is limited to those projects and programmes currently within the remit of the PMO. The Head of the PMO needs to be taking a far more strategic view. For example, they should be horizon scanning, so that they know the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for the organisation as a whole.
2. Horizon scanning
If they understand where the business is going, and what changes are likely in its operating environment in the immediate and medium term, they'll be able to make a valuable contribution to the planning process. They may be able to issue a warning that the portfolio of projects scheduled for the next one to three years will be competing for resources against some major new business initiatives. They'll be able to identify the pinch points between the programme and the changing environment in the rest of the business.
This will enable resource planning to be far more accurately managed, both for projects and for the rest of the operation. The majority of projects require input from an organisation's fixed resources, such as IT and HR. The Head of PMO's job is to understand the whole picture, including those outside factors that are likely to arise in the medium term.
3. Knowing how to add value in the future
It's important to ensure that the PMO is in good shape in order that it can add value to corporate operations as the organisation changes. This requires taking note of what data and information the organisation needs, how it needs to be presented, and when. It involves understanding whether lengthy reports have had their day and establishing what corporate leaders really need to inform them about projects and programmes. Ensuring that the PMO staff are fully trained and adaptable for their changing roles is also a necessity.
If the Head of the PMO isn't doing these things, they'll be blindsided by changes to the way the business operates and will be constantly struggling to catch up. Of course, part of the skill in adding value and looking forward is making sure that they are included in the conversations that involve the organisation's future. A skilled Head of PMO will make sure that their input on future plans is seen as essential to making those plans realistic and robust.