PM Earth

General Project Management PMO Services

17 October 2007

General Project Management Software PMO Services


A general PMO focuses on general services and seeks to standardize project management methodology, processes and tools by making them available. A general PMO will be more effective if it also provides some supportive services, such as training.

A general PMO is the least effective type of PMO, and it can only grow by changing into another type of PMO. General services alone are not enough to drive change in the way projects are run. To put it another way, if the PMO just makes new methods available, then the PMO doesn't provide enough incentive for project managers to change the way they work. To get project managers to use the new methods, the PMO must provide supportive services to teach people, controlling services to ensure that the methods are used, or directive services to guide people.

Why, then, create a general PMO? There are certain organizational cultures where a general PMO is the only possible first step. Here are some of the critical factors:


Towards becoming a supportive PMO. If the methods work and the PMO becomes popular, then project managers will request more Project Management Training. In responding to this request, the PMO will become a supportive PMO.


Towards becoming a controlling PMO. If executive management perceives that the methods are effective, they may ask that the PMO ensure the methods are used. Executive management would then require use of the PMO's methods, and the PMO would ensure their use through reviews and audits, becoming a controlling PMO.

It is unlikely that a general PMO will turn into a directive PMO. The organizational structure and culture that requires a general PMO – a loose, diversified organization – would not allow central control of projects. If this change did happen, it would be due to a major change in executive management executing a change to corporate culture. This might happen in a corporate takeover or a corporate turnaround.


If a general PMO does not evolve into a different type of PMO, it is likely to falter. The goal of general services is to standardize on a single PM methodology with processes and tools. If that happens, then the organization will want support and assurance of the use of the new methods, and the PMO will change type to supportive or controlling, as discussed above. If the organization does not standardize on the PMOs methodology, then the PMO has failed in its mission. Either it will be abandoned as a lost cause, or it will be reinvented – perhaps into a supportive PMO – in a new effort.


In summary, the general PMO:


Takes a "this is available if you want it" approach to customer service

Is available to stakeholders, but stakeholders must take the initiative to learn and use the PMO methods and tools


Offers executives an opportunity to try out a PMO and develop a methodology with little investment in cultural change, and therefore, little risk


Benefits the organization by standardizing project management, but only if its methodology, processes and tools are accepted.


A general PMO is an acceptable starting point in an organization where there is  no other alternative. However, the supportive PMO is much more common and usually more effective.

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