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Project Management Office and the Monorail


With the current economic situation examples of government public works projects such as the WPA (Works Progress Administration) are in the air and it got me thinking about what the biggest benefits of such projects are. It seems to me that the most lasting impact is on public infrastructure, things like dams and roads that enable everyone to progress, but which would not be possible unless some central organization provided them.

I think the same thing is true of PMO's. The biggest value they can provide is infrastructure, whether that be well-trained people, processes or technologies which will enable projects to progress smoothly and efficiently.

However, the comparison between PMO's and government agencies brings up the inevitable question of bureaucracy and efficiency. What is the right size of a PMO? Too large and it creates its own gravitational field. Too small and it is not capable of building essential infrastructure. I think the solution to this project is to keep as much of the PMO work project-based, with the projects it is undertaking being defined by the organization it is supporting.

The PMO needs to be able to grow and shrink as needs change and needs to be vigilant that they are not just doing projects to have something to do. They have to be aware of the fine line of providing lasting value rather than just making work. Look at what your PMO is doing and see which activities it is undertaking which will actually help the organizations you support. The PMO should build and maintain infrastructure. Nothing more. Nothing less.

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