The Project Management Office (PMO) doesn't just work because it's been put in place; there must be a few key factors to make sure the effort gets off the ground and has a positive impact on the organization. Mark Sherman Explains how nowadays there are plenty of high visibility projects and just as many frustrated executives who watch as those projects flounder and fail. This sometimes has nothing to do with the skill level of the project managers or employees on the project – as even skilled teams can have a project fail. Sherman lists the five critical success areas and explains in detail why each is important. The first is the scope of the PMO, how it must be defined and understood by all levels of the organization. The next point is executive sponsorship:
The most effective PMO's are sponsored at the C-Level or VP level, with active participation and input to each initiative in the portfolio. As a best practice, the executive sponsor's corporate objectives are tied directly to the execution of the portfolio initiatives. The PMO acts as the governance control and insures consistency of action. The executive sponsor insures the correct LOB/line management stakeholders are represented in the Steering Committee to manage functional area administration of the programs.
The list goes on to include Governance priorities, program selection, and the management of tough choices (fact based discussion, relative impacts, and final decisions based on all available data). The five critical areas of focus represent the complete picture of what makes for a program or project management office, and generally can't be separated from each other. The organization that manages to master all five is bound to have a remarkably effective PMO.