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Are project management offices the exception or the rule in most organisations? Does every organisation need one? Do YOU see value in having one?

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Are project management offices the exception or the rule in most organisations?

PMOs are becoming more frequent, and particularly as you look at large organizations, they are definitely no longer an exception (I'd say they are becoming more of a norm than a rule though). They still tend to exist mostly within IT departments (IT being heavily project-driven), although some industries see other business functions starting to implement PMOs too (e.g. organizations doing R&D). PMOs typically sit at the corporate level, with project management oversight across the whole organization.

Does every organisation need one?

It depends on the organization. Basically the more projectized the organization, the more sense it makes. However the size of the organization also matters: you have to reach a certain scale (in terms of number and size of projects, project resources and so on) to justify the cost of a PMO. In smaller organizations, PMO processes (like providing a standard method for delivering projects, having common templates or reporting across projects) can be done by existing teams without having to create a special unit called "PMO".

Do YOU see value in having one?

There is value when the pros outweigh the cons:

  • The main con of having a PMO is that it costs money (staff, tools, organizational changes, etc.). Other cons that are often cited are a heavy administrative focus, a lack of agility and flexibility that may be perceived as slowing down projects, or a lack of practical support for project teams - but these are consequences of an inefficient PMO.

  • The biggest pro of having a PMO is that it can save money by creating process efficiencies (time and effort savings) across projects (e.g. by standardizing process, methods and tools to deliver projects; optimizing project resources utilization; providing support and training to project teams). There is also a strategic dimension which is harder to measure, but one of the key benefits is to be able to support business goals (e.g. by helping to select the right projects, providing a consolidated big picture that supports decision-making, aligning project portfolio management with financial objectives).

  • I agree entirely with the benefits suggested in this answer. For me, as a PM employed on a contract in a large and very complex organisation, the PMO has made my introduction to the processes and standards far easier than I would have expected, and has meant that I have not had to bother other PMs to find out how to operate within the governance that has been established. I also agree that not every organisation needs one, but the functions that the PMO carries out are so valuable that someone should take on the duties on some basis, even if only part time as part of another role. – Iain9688 Sep 12 '11 at 19:11
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I agree withsngeline.

But there are two points I think I can add:

Cons: it waste a lot time for the "working people" - who usually cant see the benefit of the pmo. They consider it to be the big brother that monitors every break they take and telling the CEO every "secret" they have. So it cost the time of many people who are busy filling reports project plan instead of working.

It takes really good pmo and a considerable time to make value.

Having this said. Planing is time and money savers and quality improving. With the exception of small / simple project - by the time you'll finish planing you will run out of budget and you will not know much more than you did without the pmo

I'm a pmo and I don't want to know if at the end of the day I was profitable to the company or not because this is the one employee In the company I don't want to layoff but if you need a rule of thumb - see how many deadline you miss and how close your budget estimation to the actual cost. If you are on time and on budget you dont need a pmo.

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    If you are on time and on budget you don't need a pmo? Are you sure of that? – Konerak Sep 13 '11 at 9:20
  • I'm old enough not to be sure on anything. But I think than in such situation I would prefer to spend my money on r&d marketing etc- get bigger or on qa to get better – Asaf Gilad Sep 14 '11 at 6:28
  • Aha, thanks for clarifying! I can agree that certain other needs might have a higher priority, but that doesn't make pmo a non-need ;) – Konerak Sep 14 '11 at 6:37

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