While many organizations have incorporated a formalization of these activities through some documented process, most commonly this has come to be housed in the PMO function. The virtue of doing this is obvious - the 'pre-' and 'post-' factors can be articulated and analyzed in the same place so that the organization can do projects cheaper, faster, smarter. So what specifically does a PMO need to do for cheaper, faster, smarter, more business appropriate projects? I submit these are 6-fold:
1. WHY - Articulate the project's charter, what goals it seeks to achieve, what the business objectives of the project are
2. HOW - Enunciate the measures for its success i.e. how the project's end-result will be measured: these are usually in terms of cost/time savings, market share increase, profitability increase or other measurable success factors
3. WHO will do the project , who is affected, who will make decisions, who will fund
4. WHERE will it be done and where it will have impact i.e. geographies, business units, customer types etc
5. WHEN - The time it will take to complete the project, when it will be operational
6. WHAT - the scope of the work
While most of these may seem intuitive, you will be surprised how many projects lack clear definition on some or all of these 6 aspects rendering them either failed or at best unknown/unquantifiable in terms of their end-value in which case it is impossible to justify the cost/benefit of the project.
What often happens is that the sponsor is in a hurry to get the work started, and without a formal PMO to contend with may be tempted to or unconsciously bypass these critical efforts. It is the job of the PMO to ensure that it has enough executive level support to stand in the way of shortcuts and quick launches in favor of a more rationalized approach. Having said that, it is also the responsibility of the PMO to ensure that the process is not so lengthy and/or cumbersome that business/sponsors have real gripes about the value of the exercise. Most of all, PMO's need to close the circle of the project by doing a post- mortem on the business benefit of the project in addition to a post-mortem of the project execution itself and ensure that the benefits & lessons learned are communicated to all stakeholders in a timely fashion.
Finally, the PMO has a critical role to play in reporting back the financial performance of the project and eventually have ties into the business unit to see to the financial viability of the end-product’s throughout its life. This way, the PMO becomes an important stakeholder in also proposing the inception of new projects.