Winner of the 2006 PMI David I. Cleland Project Management Literature Award.
Cover to Cover–Book Review
Governance and Communities of PMOs
Article first published online: 28 DEC 2012
© 2012 Project Management Institute
Project Management Journal
Volume 44, Issue 1, page 108, February 2013
How to Cite
Rose, K. H. (2013), Governance and Communities of PMOs. Proj Mgmt Jrnl, 44: 108. doi: 10.1002/pmj.21318
- Issue published online: 18 JAN 2013
- Article first published online: 28 DEC 2012
Governance and Communities of PMOs by , , and Project Management Institute, 2012, ISBN: 9781935589488, paperback, 106 pp., $23.95 Member, $29.95 Nonmember.
In small organizations, a single project management office (PMO) may suffice. But in large organizations, PMOs abound. This phenomenon, though common, is the subject of little study. Monique Aubry, Ralf Müller, and Johannes Glückler take the matter on in Governance and Communities of PMOs.
While this is a seminal research report, practitioners should recognize early that there is much in this for them. They should not review this in passing; they should seek it out.
The literature review and conceptual framework is more than a summary of what has been said. It is the foundation for establishing a new view and new understanding of the role of multiple PMOs in large organizations. The authors describe three possibilities for multiple PMOs: islands, networks, and communities. The concepts of isolated islands and linked networks will be familiar to readers, but the concept of communities may be new. In the authors' definition, a community of PMOs “. . . is a network of PMOs formally or informally bound together by shared values and expertise for a joint enterprise.” This establishes a more powerful and purposeful relationship that goes beyond the framework of a simple network.
For their research design and methodology, the authors settled on a mixed-method, case study approach that would allow “how” and “what” research questions and in-depth investigation of contemporary phenomenon in context. For case studies, they selected representative organizations in global telecommunications, national health care, financial, and pharmaceutical manufacturing industries.
The research effort included the typical qualitative and quantitative elements. The latter included a unique social network analysis that examined the positions and roles of individual people or organizations, and the overall structure of linkages within the network.
Case study descriptions include six common sections. Practitioners should spend some time here. Because this is a first-of-its-kind, breakthrough study, the information offered will not just make them smarter, it will inform them for future action. Through the case studies, practitioners may not experience an illuminating “Ah-ha!” moment, but they will likely encounter something familiar, something that shows a red flag that points to a better way.
The authors describe four roles for PMOs: controlling, serving, partnering, and central, which includes and balances the other three. The controlling role is most common, as probably confirmed by the readers' own experience. The serving role follows in usage. Partnering is rare, and central is new. Discussion is augmented by a series of ternary diagrams that clarify concepts graphically.
The analysis of knowledge exchange in PMO networks also includes some innovative and revealing graphics. Readers may be surprised—some not—by the degree of knowledge exchange and the different upstream and downstream perceptions.
Readers should note the “Bagel Metaphor” in Chapter 7. The authors describe an environment in which a central PMO exists at the top of the organization with specialized PMOs surrounding it at lower levels. For many reasons, communications between the central PMO and others are not good. The central PMO becomes an “ivory tower,” isolated from the activity going on around it—like the hole in the center of a bagel. An amusing metaphor, and a warning to those who would hear it.
The report wraps up with a brief conclusion that explicitly lists the relevant implications for practitioners and academics. This unique aspect alone makes it worth the read for both. Practitioners will find value in this because they are not employing multiple PMOs by applying known rules in proven ways; they are breaking new ground. And this report exists as the only current guide. Academics will find value in this because those who break new ground are not the final stop in a journey of research; they are the first step. There is much more to be learned, and this report is the foundation.