Project management is practically a buzzword now, with many organizations working with or even owning PMOs of their own. And while these organizations do use PMOs on a regular basis, few project managers actually understand the true importance of project management in the grand scheme of things and how it should be leveraged. Tunnel vision limits their view to the confines of the project, which can affect the quality, output, and attitude of the team.
Small and Surgical
Some project managers fall into the trap of empire building: adding to their team as much and as fast as they can, equating size with prestige. In military terms, they’re trying to build an army to match that of other departments.
But project management offices don’t work that way. The bigger a PMO is, the more ungainly it becomes. It’s more accurate to compare a project team to the special forces: an elite team of highly skilled people, trained and motivated to accomplish distinct objectives. These teams produce great results because they’re lean and flexible. Large-scale, ongoing operations aren’t their thing.
A Support Role
When most of your days are spent handling six-figure (or more) projects, it’s easy to forget that the project does not revolve around you. When it boils down to it, the PMO’s primary function is support. Every project the PMO touches is meant to make life better for someone else in the organization. A faster computer network. More effective software. Nicer facilities. Better marketing to help sales. Even supposedly stand-alone projects like construction or civil engineering are in support of larger concerns like housing management and city operations.
Projects should always be executed with the end-user in mind. It’s easy to tell which ones haven’t. They’re loaded with features, but none of them useful to the user, or are so awkward to use that they might as well be discarded. Project managers who look beyond the project, to the effect it will have on the organization, are more likely to get it right more often.
You’re not going to win the war by yourself, but you can make damn sure the rest of the organization has an easier time doing it.
Image credit, Flickr, US Army Europe Images