As project portfolio management changes with the new demands of modern business and enterprises, so too must the Project Management Office (PMO). However, just as many organizations are slow to adjust their project portfolio management systems and methodologies, the same is happening within the PMO.

When this happens, regardless of the strength of the team and projects, the chances of success are jeopardized. As you know, effective project portfolio management depends on clear leadership, planning, business expertise, and more – all of which has to come from the PMO.

Your teams cannot be expected to fulfill the demands of multiple projects and shifting organizational goals without clear direction, support, expertise, and leadership. Yes, your teams can realize success in the short-term (thanks to their professional strength), but in the long-term, neither you project portfolio nor your teams will thrive and survive.

In this article, we dig into the roles and responsibilities of the modern PMO and look at the skills effective PMO professionals require.

What Skills Does my Modern PMO Need?

Establishing a high functioning PMO takes more than promoting a couple of project managers and giving them a new list of responsibilities. The most effective PMO is one that goes beyond the basics of project portfolio management and looks at how it can best serve the team and organization to achieve project and organization goals.

When setting up your PMO or analyzing why your PMO is not thriving as you had hoped, assess for these key skills:

  • Knowing value. In knowing the value of each project, the PMO can better prioritize projects and deliverables for the team. Be ready to explain to the team how these projects provide benefit and value to the organization.
  • In-tune with company strategy. It’s impossible to define value and prioritize projects without knowing the company strategy. Remember to include your PMO in key strategy and planning meetings – your PMO has deep insight into how the projects align with organization goals and values.
  • Assertiveness. The ability to provide clear leadership relies on being an assertive individual. Your PMO must be confident to speak up and voice opinions on project, team, and organization direction.
  • Solid reputation. The PMO must have both respect and credibility in the organization. You need your teams and management to trust the PMO and understand how the PMO brings value to the organization.
  • Open mind. The new project portfolio management systems require a PMO that can shift focus, is open to change, and is able to adapt to new demands and ways of managing. The PMO must be able to change and adapt to any shits in organization goals and customer demands.

Your modern PMO is the lighthouse for your project teams and organization. The PMO provides the direction, leadership, professionalism, and expertise that makes it possible for your teams to meet project demands. When there are problems, questions, or confusion over a project – it is the PMO that the teams turn to for help and guidance.

The Role of the Modern PMO in Project Portfolio Management

Whatever you do, don’t limit your PMO to simply scheduling and other administrative tasks. Empower your PMO with these key organization roles and responsibilities:

  • Strategic planning. This goes beyond basic scheduling and planning and branches out into ranking, scoring, prioritizing, and scheduling projects based on key strategic organization and customer needs. The PMO provides expert guidance to upper management teams on how and why projects align with organization goals, ensuring the right projects are active and in the queue.
  • Establishes best practices. The PMO provides professional direction to the teams, ensuring that they’re able to deliver on project goals. This can mean providing direction and leadership on agile project portfolio management or in leading the team in moving from waterfall to agile or in ensuring each project is run with the same business practices and strategies.
  • Communication center. The project teams and organization look to the PMO for all information about active and future projects. The PMO must be actively involved in communicating with key stakeholders, clients, team leaders, and management to ensure everyone is on track and focused on the right tasks.
  • Resource planning. The PMO must know every facet of each project in the portfolio, including the people, costs, budget, schedule, risk factors, and success markers. The PMO is expected to provide direction and ensure that each project has adequate resources and is able to respond to any slow-downs.

Of course, depending on your organization structure and project portfolio, your PMO may take on additional roles. However, it’s important to remember that in order to establish an effective and purposeful PMO, you must give this team of project managers the freedom, expectations, and opportunities to thrive.

Do not get caught up in old traditional methods of project portfolio management – let your PMO think outside-of-the-box and look for ways to best provide leadership, direction, professional expertise, and strategic confidence to your project teams and organization. Remember, the goal is effective and successful project portfolio management and this is what your PMO can do for you.

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