Are you a Project Management Professional and you believe that the Programme Office (PMO) fuels complexity, bureaucracy and hinders progress?

The big question is, “How can the Programme Office simplify Project Delivery and eliminate complexity and bureaucracy”?

First of all, let’s look at the problem, and then what can be done to eliminate that complexity and bureaucracy.


The Big PMO Puzzle

All too often the Project Management community that the PMO is meant to support, see the it as a necessary.

They are also seen a necessary evil and the body that adds to the bureaucracy of Project Management. 

The Programme Office however, see themselves as the glue that brings projects together, provides a single version of the truth, and are responsible for implementing and upholding standards.

And hereby lies the conflict and two opposing views.

All too often the Programme Office make 3 Mistakes that fuel complexity, bureaucracy and hinder progress.


Mistake #1: Having a Purist PMO Manager

The PMO is usually managed by one of two types of manager and depending which you have, will also determine the style of Project Management Methodology.

Why is this a big mistake

Having a purist running the PMO means that the methodology and the ways of working will be the PMO managers key to having an effective and well run PMO. They will have every process, workflow, and deliverable documented in detail.

The problem here is that their view will inevitably be steeped in best practice and a purist view of Project Management, I know because I’ve seen it all too often.

What to do instead

Ensure you have a pragmatist running the PMO who will ideally, be someone with a Project Delivery background. They will be able to look at the practicalities of the methodology, the most effective ways of working, and how it supports on-time project delivery and reporting.


Mistake #2: Obsessing Over Best Practice Templates

I recently saw an advertisement for 7,000 PMO and business templates!

Why would you want 7,000 templates?

Obsessing over the multitude of templates will only serve to create more ‘shelfware’ that never sees the light of day.

Why is this a big mistake

Simply, you don’t need 7,000 templates and most of the best practice templates I have come across are never used.

What to do instead

When designing the ways of working, ensure that the deliverable templates are supporting the key functions of the process and not there just to make up the numbers.


Mistake #3: Over Complicated and Time-Consuming Reporting

Why is this a big mistake

The root cause of much of the overcomplication lies within the PMO, and their inability to simplify the reporting process and avoiding duplicated effort.

What to do instead

The reporting process should enable the Project Manager to create one report, the period highlight report. The Project Manager has a tough workload to manage and it is important that they report progress in such a way that it is reusable. Ideally the period highlight report should only take 15 – 30 minutes to write.

PMO Genius Challenge

One of the biggest challenges that the PMO faces is serving two disparate groups of stakeholders. Those are the senior stakeholders, (the Project or programme Board), and the project community.

The way to overcome this is to see the problem from your stakeholder’s point of view and look at the problem they have to solve. By taking this approach you can create a balanced view of both the problem and the solution.

Your Next Success Steps

One of the ways that you can help overcome complexity and bureaucracy in project delivery is to help me out.  I'm putting the finishing touches on a course that I've developed to eliminate Project Management Bureaucracy that will transform the way we deliver projects on time and in the budget.

You can help me out by taking a short quiz

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Chris Hallett

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