Every year, organizations endeavor to reduce costs and increase revenue. Sometimes, the imbalance between cost and revenue forces orga- nizations to make painful cuts—including fewer projects or fewer employees. Support functions typically feel the effects of this action, and the project management office (PMO) is no exception.
But there are ways for PMO directors to reduce
the pain. Keep the PMO fit and trim by regularly
conducting a comprehensive assessment of the
PMO’s activities and processes. Then there won’t
be any flab to cut.
Specifically, here are four areas to examine:
Reassessing PMO processes helps reveal
redundant tasks and activities performed by
PMO staff. For instance, aggregation of risks
and issues is an aspect of project reporting
found in all PMOs. The executive PMO usu-
ally receives risks and issues in different for-
mats from several distributed PMOs. A great
deal of time and effort is spent in the translation
and consolidation of the content into a single for-
mat, before any intelligence is applied.
A simple process change would create a single
report template for all PMOs to use and save time
for the executive PMO on content consolidation.
This frees up resources—and funds—that can be
It is common to find multiple PMOs in organiza-
Abid Mustafa is a director of strategy and customer experience PMO for Etisalat, the incumbent
telecom operator in the United Arab Emirates. He
is the author of In the Age of Turbulence: How to
Make Executive PMOs Successful.
tions charged with the responsibility of delivering projects and providing management reports.
Reducing the number of PMOs while centralizing
functions can lead to immense savings.
For example, in telecommunications companies,
it’s the norm to have one consumer experience-focused PMO and a separate enterprise PMO. But in
most cases, this demarcation isn’t necessary; a single PMO can do the same jobs, and possibly better.
Automation happens on two fronts: between the
PMO and the rest of the organization, and within
the PMO. Part of the problem is that far too many
PMOs are still using tools such as spreadsheets
to carry out their day-to-day work. These types of
tools only separate departments more while adding to the layers of bureaucracy, complicating the
execution of project tasks and further delaying the
time to market.
Shifting toward enterprise-wide project management tools connects departments on one platform,
increasing project execution and thereby boosting
productivity and reducing staff costs.
Large corporations increasingly outsource repetitive PMO tasks such as tracking risks, assumptions,
issues and dependencies. Some ambitious organizations even outsource all of their distributed
PMOs, only retaining the enterprise PMO to manage vendor relations.
In such arrangements, the vendor provides a set of
project services to the organization. The organization
no longer has to manage project managers’ salaries,
Undertaking a comprehensive assessment in these
four areas enables PMO directors to instigate measures
that not only maintain efficiency, but also increase
staff productivity. And that’s good for everyone. PM
No one likes bloated budgets. To
avoid them, PMO leaders should
regularly examine ways to keep
operations as lean as possible.
BY ABID MUS TAFA