Project Portfolio Management – The Role of the PMO

By Jamal Moustafaev, MBA, PMP – president and founder of Thinktank Consulting

The role of the PMO in the project portfolio management process can be generally divided into two domains: project prioritization and selection as well as project management and monitoring (see Figure 1).

Figure 1

The first role of the PMO is to act as a filtration mechanism for all the incoming project proposals. It is very important to point out that project management office should not have a mandate to overturn or reject project requests. Its role is to accept the business cases, review them and whenever possible to point out inconsistencies or imperfections in these documents to the project champions.

First, the prerogative of project acceptance or rejection belongs only to the Portfolio Executive Committee consisting of the organization’s executives. They and only they have the right to approve, reject, postpone or kill any project in the proposal pipeline.

Second, the role of the PMO is to work with the project champions in order to guide them in writing and “selling” their project proposals. here is an example of a conversation that may take place between the PMO manager and the project champion:

M: John, I looked over your business case for the CRM system replacement and overall it looks very good. My only concern is that you gave it ten out of possible ten points in the “Technical Feasibility” category …

PC: Yes, and what is the problem?

M: Well this kind of score in this category implies that it would be a fairly simple project that can be done by our internal resources only.

PC: I think we can handle it internally …

M: We had several other new system implementations projects recently. Remember, the ones for the risk management team and for the HR department. In both cases we had to rely on extensive support from the external consultants provided by the vendors …I am not insisting on anything, but you will have to go in front of the executive committee and justify these projections.

PC: You are right, let us downgrade the score from ten out of ten to five out of ten.

What are your thoughts on this approach? How does your PMO handle its PPM responsibilities?

About the Author:

Jamal Moustafaev, MBA, PMP – president and founder of Thinktank Consulting is an internationally acclaimed expert and speaker in the areas of project/portfolio management, scope definition, process improvement and corporate training. Jamal Moustafaev has done work for private-sector companies and government organizations in Canada, US, Asia, Europe and Middle East.

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