PMOs are commonplace in medium to large construction companies. Evaluate the role of the PMO with particular reference to the benefits and disbenefits that they bring to a project organisation.
A PMO which stands for Project Management Office is a system which is central to the organisation and is generally used in the direction of projects, with specific relation to safety and speed of performance. The PMO is constructed within a company to have an overall level of adequate standard and methods concerning the project management. PMO may take various types of form to serve different needs and perform goals from low level to high level within an organisation. When the PMO has been fully established it will be used as a guidance for procedures in management of the organisation (documentation) and projects for which the company has under taken. There are various different types of PMO and are all dependent on the size of an organisation from small, medium and large.
Setting up a PMO within an organisation the following four must be incorporated:
- Project Planning – involves the whole scope and aspects of the project, which would include timeframe, size of project and resources.
- Project scheduling – This involves a detailed timeframe of each procedure that will take place during the timeframe of the project, which is normally done by means of MS Project.
- Risk analysis – Detailing of the possible risks which are associated with a particular project, evaluating their possibilities into high, medium and low. This must be incorporated into a spreadsheet and continually monitored.
- Project Tracking – A monitoring procedure which will incorporate status of weekly procedures in management and the projects schedule plan.
The Role of PMO
The Role Project Management Office proposes to a construction company are various and require a significant amount of detail.
Establishing a foundation for the project management procedures and implementing them within the organisation, in specific areas such as risk analysis, construction project selection and the software which will most suit the company. This is vital to the success of the PMO, forming the standards at foundation level.
Evaluate the current project management system in relation to its development and continually improve in the areas where most needed. Understanding the current system which is in place in the construction company is a great benefit, as it informs the PMO on the areas which need most attention in developing.
Provide training to the project managers and staff with skills that are necessity to the development of the company. The skill which staff will acquire from the training will be in areas such as knowledge based skills, communication skills and updating their current skills. The training exercises need to be continuous to provide an established workforce, which will continually develop the organisation.
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Provide knowledge to the project manager on administrative skills, which are essential to the functionality a construction organisation. The skills which the project manager should develop from the PMO are in areas such as planning, staffing, and organising The PMO will also provide the PM with a sufficient understanding of computer software technology (Word, Project, spread sheets and databases) and develop their telecommunication skills.
As previously discussed, incorporating estimation and risk analysis system into the organisation to provide knowledge on financial awareness on the organisation and projects. The estimation and analysis systems should be continuously reviewed and managed to identify any problematic issues which may arise.
Develop the companies’ ability to change, expand and increase with their scope of project, costs and timeframes. Incorporating the above three can be a difficult task for a company to develop this, it will need to have the following, awareness of the need to change, desire to change, knowledge of the change, ability to change and reinforcement to change.
Review the lifecycle of a project and measure the company’s prospects at reaching the goals. This review should be performed at various stages throughout the lifecycle of the project to estimate whether the project is within the set timeframe.
Preserve documents in a database which can be easily traced back for future reviews. This can also be included under time management and the developing adequate organisation to have easy access of necessary documents.
Provide communication and linkage technology between project manager and staff to have specific information in relation to particulars which require a lot of detail. This is necessary in areas such as design stage and construction stage where a considerate amount of detain is required.
The finishing stages of a project can be a difficult period and requires a sufficient amount of work. The finish of the project has to be of an adequate and professional quality standard to incorporate future work from the current client.
Continually examine projects which are currently being developed by the construction company and report the information to main management for the appropriate decision. This method should be repeatedly done until project completion.
There are 3 different forms of project management office which a construction company can incorporate into their organisation and they are as follows:
This form of PMO is used to help project managers and staff to deliver projects more successfully, by means of providing knowledge, training and the resources which are needed to enable the company to solve problems at a quicker rate.
The supportive form is used in the following areas:
- If the organisation is relatively new.
- Not used in the long run but are the best place for an organisation to start.
This form of PMO is used where a more of a monitoring approach is needed to take control of the project and the company. It is used to provide a certain standard which is required in details such as audits, project reviews and attain the risks which may be a threat to a project.
The controlling form is used in the following areas:
- If the supportive service is not enough for the organisation and a more heightened approach is needed.
- If projects need to be addressed on an individual basis and the best practices identified to complete the project successfully
This form of PMO is used to take over the entire project and uses a commanding approach in the running of the project. The main leader within the directive approach is the PMO director and the project manager reports to them with project related issues.
The directive form is used in the following areas:
- Can be considered the most advantageous of the three for its direct outcome of a highly detailed and high risk project.
- Where a professional approach is paramount.
- A consistent result is needed throughout the entire project.
- The most appropriate form of PMO to meet the specific need of the construction organisation will depend solely on the following:
- The history of the company.
- The approach necessary to achieve highest optimum outcome and further enhance the development of the company.
- The size of the company and the future goals.
The Project Manager in the PMO
The project manager has a very important role to play within a construction company and the success of a company/project very much depends on their ability and determination to succeed. The project manager is dependent on the line management structure to respond to such issues as financial aspects, general skills and quality standard which will be required when implementing the PMO. A PMO needs to ultimately gain the full support from the Project Manager to achieve the desired goals.
The project manager will ultimately benefit as he/she will be incorporating the knowledge and skills of all within the company thus utilising their knowledge and resources for the continuous growth of the company. The PMO will also incorporate the skills of the project manager and guide them towards projects which are most suited to their skills.
The duties of the project manager within the PMO are as follows:
- A PM will focus on a specific task, while the PMO will focus on the overall scope of the project and the continuous changes to better the company.
- A PM controls a particular project and uses the resources which are assigned to them, while the PMO can be assigned various tasks across the entire company and optimises the resources of the entire company.
Advantages of PMO
There are several advantages which can be ascertained by having an adequate PMO incorporated into an organisation and they are as follows:
- The recommended industry guidelines are followed rigorously by the PMO, which is a major benefit when it comes to the required standard needed for a project. This standard can be seen in areas such as estimation, risk analysis and budget.
- An increased dedication will be given by the project manager and the organisational team.
- Procedures which are relevant to the organisation and the project will be performed in a consistent and standardised way.
- Using consistent and standardised procedures will benefit the organisation as these can help to measure the project performance using quantitative methods.
- A vast knowledge will be ascertained from previous projects and learning to face challenges from future similar projects.
Disadvantages of PMO
There are several disadvantages which a PMO can bring to an organisation and they are as follows:
- A considerable amount of commitment is needed from the entire organisation for a PMO to be incorporated successfully and to achieve the desired goals. This can also prove to be a difficult feat when resources are in short supply.
- Resistance from clients to believe in the PMO can also be another difficult feat and greatly depend on the knowledge and level of management maturity which they have encompassed.
- Friction between clients and project managers can be generated from lack of commitment from either side.
- The time needed to incorporate a PMO into an organisation can be vast, due to the amount of developments, processes and the general changes that may need to be integrated into a small to medium organisation.
Outsourcing the PMO
Outsourcing services has become an increased feature within an organisation and is has proved several benefits which can be gained when incorporating within an organisation. In a medium to large construction company it may be a sensible decision to outsource the PMO to bring a valid value to the organisation in its main direction of goals. Outsourcing is a common feature in organisations, which is making organisation focus on their main services which they intend to provide.
The advantages of outsourcing:
- Allowing the construction company to focus on its primary activities which are central to the organisation.
- Improving project delivery to an adequate standard in terms of quality and time.
- Financial benefits to the company if outsourcing is performed correctly.
The disadvantages of outsourcing:
- A certain percentage of the company in terms of management is signed over to a third party, which entails loss of control.
- The first costs which are needed to start off the outsourcing process can be relatively expensive.
Implementing the PMO into a Construction Organisation
Implementing the PMO into a small to medium construction organisation is one of the more difficult tasks which will be met. Trying to incorporate all the various aspects which are involved in the PMO in the organisation can be challenging for the organisation and which is another reason why it may be advisable to outsource. As discussed before the project management maturity will have a great deal of influence on the PMO especially in the implementation process.
The following areas will need to be fully researched in the organisation to achieve success in the implementation of the PMO:
- How the PMO will affect the organisation, project manager and staff.
- Implementing the PMO in a procedure which will be both adequate to project managers and staff.
- The time frame which will be needed for company to feel the full benefits of the PMOs implementation in areas such as cost, quality and efficiency.
PMO vs. Project Office
A PMO can sometimes be confused with Project Office, but although this is where the PMO stems from, there are many differences. The differences between role of the project office and PMO are as follows:
- The PMO is continuous development of the company in terms of improvement, while the project office ends with the project.
- The PMO is responsible for several activities and can overlook various different projects within a construction company, while the project office is responsible for one particular project.
- The PMO is used to guide several project managers through direction and support, while the project office gives guidance to just one project manager.
- The PMO sets specific standards which are in relation to the quality and efficiency which all project must follow, while the project office ensures that one project meets its strategic objectives.
- Choosing either of the two is very much dependant on the type of the organisation and the level of standard
Project Management Office is a highly complex feature within an organisation which requires consistent updating. The PMO is known to be a vital ingredient in a small to medium construction company and is especially an advantageous feature in these financially restricted times. The PMO can be a difficult task to initially install within an organisation, with changing people’s mind-set being the most difficult. Although once the company has fully implemented the system and is continually developing the PMO, then this is when it is an effective force to the companies’ ultimate standing.
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