WWT's Jeff Grieshaber talks internal and external PMOs

WWT Senior Manager Jeff Grieshaber explains the difference between internal and external project management offices (PMOs) in this article from CIO.

Oct 19, 2017 3 minute read

Posted by CIO on October 19, 2017:

A project management office (PMO) is a group — internal or external to a company — that sets, maintains and ensures standards for project management across that organization. 
They’re the keepers of best practices, project status and direction — all in one spot.

“At the end of the day, PMOs are in place to help orgs deliver value to their stakeholders to projects and programs,” says Brian Weiss, vice president, practitioner career development of the Project Management Institute.

According to PM Solutions research, 85 percent of companies had a PMO in 2016, up five percent from 2014. They also found that 30 percent of companies without a PMO plan to implement one.

The role of the PMO could change as artificial intelligence and digital transformation take hold, but in today’s business climate, here’s what a PMO should do, what types you should consider, and who really needs one.

Different types of PMO

In order of least support to most support, the three general types of PMO are Supportive, Controlling and Directive.

  • A Supportive PMO is “the kumbaya” kind of PMO, says Fritsch, where a PMO provides help if it’s needed. “Come on in, we’ll give you ideas, give you best practices and you can ignore us completely and we won’t say a thing.”
  • A Controlling PMO isn’t entirely hands off but it’s not a task master either. “It puts in some measure of control of the projects,” said Fritsch. It gives the company templates, procedures and reporting. It’s “that mid-point sweet spot of enforcing some standards, providing all that support, but the PMO is not in charge of everything,” he said, adding that this is the most common type of PMO.
  • A Directive PMO is where the PMO directs project management of the work, support and controls the world, and leaves no space for wiggle room about following the templates, procedures and reporting requirements outlined by the PMO. These are most common in highly regulated, high risk environments.

PMOs can be internal or external facing too. Internal PMOs “bridge the gap between teams that are doing agile development and very iterative development,” said Jeff Grieshaber, senior manager at World Wide Technology. They’re also common in organizations that are running large programs in business process transformation.

External PMOs have many of the same qualities as internal ones, but are also “really good at communicating with the customers and the stakeholders and product teams that are doing the development of the work that you’re managing,” said Grieshaber.

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