The PMO effectiveness and responsibility does really depend on where it is in its maturity lifecycle.
The PMO –Project/Program Management Office can act as the group that guides the higher-level management effort. The PMO can function differently from one origination to the other, it may also have different level of maturity, and the interesting debate about PMO is: Is it bureaucratic or value-added?
PMO should focus on setting leadership principle and providing program/project guidance, rather than micro aspects of the Project, and effective PMO is critical to the success of the project. The key requirements for PMO are to have an understanding of the objectives, goals, end plan of the project. Business knowledge is a key value addition as most of the challenges faced would be on scope, activities where the delivery streams need help. Business/functional knowledge helps in posing key questions, prioritization and providing workaround.
The PMO effectiveness and responsibility does really depend on where it is in its maturity lifecycle. In early stages, it does support projects by providing the people and processes to execute the projects. In more mature stages, it should oversee and review project outcomes and improve processes that are impeding successful project completion, or improving the efficiency of project completion. It is a conduit to structured delivery. It sees all aspects from both the recipient and the delivery perspective and ensures both are equally satisfied. The PMO must be viewed as a business function by directing its mission and activities towards the success of projects as measured in business outcomes: improved profitability, cost reduction, revenue growth, and/or customer satisfaction. Once the PMO reaches this level of maturity, then it becomes a true value-add.
PMO - Governance, policies, guidance, framework, training, methodologies, results.One of the biggest challenges that PMOs face is that they can be seen as the gatekeeper for resources. There are always more projects to do than resources to do them so those whose projects don't get done may blame the PMO. Even if the PMO assists in prioritizing projects, usually the decision to proceed with a project lies with senior management. PMO is facilitating project success, not as gatekeepers in the negative sense, or the hand-holder to walk through every detail, it provides a framework to processes the project methodologies.
PMO embeds quality through the continuous review life cycle of project portfolio. The goals of PMO is not only the strategy alignment and value leverage; it's also a mix of short, mid and long term projects that need to make up a project pipeline. If one focuses on short term value too much, this might not support long term strategy and vision in the end. If one puts too much focus on long-term value, there may be a loss of momentum and engagement. PMO staff must have a good understanding of the governance and controls required. But they must also have a good understanding of the projects and programs they are facilitating, particularly the objectives and benefits to be delivered
In order to be value-added, there should have accountability for PMO. In many organizations, PMO does not have authority and this makes the role even more a bureaucracy as there is no accountability without authority. In order to improve maturity, PMO needs to ask more tough questions both at strategic and tactical level, such as: What’s the size and complexities of the organizations business goals? What are the objectives? Has it been determined a need to develop a planned road-map for delivery optimization being agreed upon? How to improve process agility, are you an agent bridging any gaps for process improvement? Also, understanding provisions for associated overhead will be required. After all, PMO can just present the great ideas and deploy upon approval with conscientious committed available resources
PMO is built to put the business more in touch with the development of new products and services, oversight the progress and measure the delivery. In short, it is designed to both setting guideline to ensure project management effectiveness and efficiency, but also allowing information and creativity to flow while keeping the business aspects in check.