Two Different Models
According to Gartner, two main types of PMOs are being formed from the Y2K offices of old. One is a kind of project office that serves mostly as a passive data repository to help guide the teams and log their progress and activities. At Shell Oil, the Y2K project management office has been reconfigured into a kind of central repository for information about past projects and best practices, methodology and contenteven previous Web site design templates. Teams can use the office for resources and for some help in project monitoring. "This way, when future stuff comes up, you don't have to reinvent the wheel," Light says.
But elsewhere, the PMO functions more like a command-and-control center, charged with overseeing projects from start to finishand actively enforcing project budget, quality and deadline requirements every step of the way. At Bayer, the old Y2K project management office is being elevated into the prime contractor for e-business project consultants, vendors and integrators. It oversees responsibility for all tech-business projects, as well as being responsible for assessing their scope, allocating resources and verifying time, budget, risk and impact assumptions.
These types of PMOs are also being used as coaching and team mentoring centers, where executives with years of project and team experience can help train young recruits in the art of companywide project management skills, project deadlines and scheduling details.
At the end of each project at Hughes Aircraft, PMO coaches can help train team members by going over final cost, errors and defects"the kind of information you can learn from and improve upon," Light says.
The biggest benefit of these offices? They minimize risk, especially on big, complex projects. In some cases, the CIO is the team coach. "A lot of companies dodged the bullet around the Y2K effort, and they did it with a lot of project management," says Light.