What’s the best PMO Model?

Posted by Kevin Brady on Thu 21st February 2008 at 07:07 PM, Filed in PMOKey Articles

The Final Verdict smile

A well known management consultancy house recently asked me review of their existing portfolio of PMO executed programmes of work with the objective of developing the following artefacts :-

  • A PMO vision statement
  • Development of a standardised out-of-the-box PMO execution blueprint (covering set-up /operational roadmap) capable of being reused and executed on all future large scale programmes of work.
  • Revise, and update where necessary, all process definitions /procedures which would be used to execute a standardised PMO Blueprint.

This consultancy really seemed to have connected with the whole concept of how PMO’s could be used as a powerhouse of efficiency and profitability on large scale programmes of work.

On further investigation it was further noted that my client had successfully utilised PMO’s to:-

  • Generate new revenue streams through the execution of PMO driven change management
  • Increased profitability through the centralised enforcement of better project management control and financial management.
  • At last I had found an organisation who really understood how process and procedure could equal profitability, efficiency and customer satisfaction all in one hit.

A “Yi-Ha!” moment for an old dog likes me smile

In order to deliver the vision statement and develop a common “to-be” PMO execution blueprint I had to clearly understand all of their “as-is” existing PMO organisational models, and the relative advantages /disadvantages of each model. Here I might find the optimal “to-be” model they were looking for with empirical evidence to back-up my conclusions.

The models I discovered were categorised as follows:-

  • Managing PMO Model –Here the PMO serves as the central governing project /programme management body driving the delivery of a programme or a group of related programmes. For a detailed assessment of the pros and cons of this model please click this link – For a detailed assessment of the pros and cons of this model please click this link –  Managing PMO
  • Consulting PMO or PSO Model – This model is not about enforcement, but addresses the needs of project management primarily through a consultative /mentoring approach designed to help foster a sense of project management community within a given programme. For a project manager working under such a model this would be more of a “pull” rather than a “push” relationship with the PMO team. For a detailed assessment of the pros and cons of this model please click this link – Consulting PMO or PSO
  • Facilitative Managing PMO Model - This model draws on the best features of the Managing and Consulting PMO models to create a hybrid model between the managing and the consulting PMO models. This drives and supports project management practices via a centralising PMO, but with the majority of the management of individual projects /programmes resting with formalised partnerships between individual end client business units and on-the-ground project /programme management resource. For a detailed assessment of the pros and cons of this model please click this link – Facilitative Managing PMO

There is no one-size-fits-all PMO model, and the one for you depends heavily on the type of programme /business organisation it has to manage /operate within.

In the case of my client we came to a joint decision on what was the right way forward for them and the needs of their clients.
The Consulting PMO model was rejected outright. This was on the basis of a simple cost benefit analysis, indicating that it rarely delivered the level of control over programme performance which was expected. Such minimal control lead to no material improvement in the chances of a programme hitting its profitability /delivery objectives compared to programmes where no PMO was deployed at all.

It was agreed that the best models would be a combination of both the remaining models (Managing PMO & Facultative Managing PMO) with one heavily preferred over the other.

The primary model chosen was the Managing PMO because, if implemented correctly, in an end client organisation of CMMI Maturity Level 2 +, it gives the highest probability of a successful profitability and delivery outcome.

However, it was realised that for end-client organisations with maturity levels below CMMI Level 2 this model would be problematic from a cultural change point of view. Therefore it was decided that in these situations the Facilitative Managing PMO would be the best model to deploy. It was agreed that the probabilities of the PMO reaching full process and procedural maturity was lower due to heavy facilitation /education and training workloads on the PMO (in terms of integrating end client stakeholders into PMO processes /procedures and governance structures) but it could still, under the right circumstances, deliver value. The key to success was the recruitment of the very best management capability (facilitation skills & gravitas) from the programme director downwards.

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This is a nice article, but it’s interesting that in the end you sold the client what they wanted to hear.

Does the consultative model have to fail?  Is the facilitative model really so marginal?

In the context of an organisation like a bank, telco, or large consulting firm - where projects are they way change is done - what do you think is really the best generic model?

THanks for posting and looking forward to reading more.


Posted by craig  on Sun 31st January 2010 at 08:00 AM | #


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