PMO vs Extreme Project Management the “Smackdown”

PMO vs Extreme ProgrammingAuthor: Teri Dakan

OK – Channeling Bobby Flay here…

How to keep a PMO relevant?  Is it?  Should it be?

An interesting dynamic took place for me; taking a PMO class at the same time I took an eXtreme Project Management class.  Yikes!  At the onset I thought – good grief – I have warring factions here.  8 weeks later here is what I found.

On the very cover of the eXtreme Project Management book – it states…Bureaucracy is to be avoided.  The obvious inference is that PMO = Bureaucracy; at least to some extent. Is this true?

I didn’t know a clear answer 2 months ago.  However, this is what I think I know now.


The world and business is moving faster and faster.

Organizational goal

It is no longer a need just to keep up – there is a need to be ahead.

An effective PMO response

PMO must be supported, if not staffed, by upper level management. Without this;  it is a show stopper or at the very least, an intermission in the march to being ahead.

Why? A PMO in part is a forum for ideas.  The PMO acts as a funnel – companies have more ideas then they can possibly ever expect to have time or resources to execute.  The PMO encourages the input, and swirls it down through the funnel into an executable, albeit challenging, path to success.

As a project manager, I would expect the outcome of the PMO to be – an intelligent well thought out; thoroughly vetted decision made on the projects the organization should pursue to meet their goals and objectives.  As a project manager, I wouldn’t expect to be privy to all the reasoning (or the vetting), but I would expect to feel confident that the decisions made are more than likely the right ones.

With the heady rush of confidence that the PMO has done their job, the relationship that develops between the PMO and the project manager keeps the PMO relevant as well as project managers themselves.  Both the PMO and the project manager are both leveraged for their expertise to bring overall success to the organization.

Strong PMOs enhance the project management process not by saddling it with unnecessary processes and procedures – thinking EPM here – but choosing the right projects, allowing the project manager to effectively execute.  The PMO provides assistance and guidance – to achieve one-time success that translates into repeatability, scalability and compliance.

Back to Bobby Flay here – the PMO is the menu – the project manager is the chef.  The menu items (PMO) have been carefully chosen to bring the greatest amount of pleasure and satisfaction to the customers.  The chef (project manager) picks the right ingredients to assure what is delivered will meet – or even exceed – the customer’s expectations.

One more thing….a PMO also in support of project management and the organization should take the initiative to cancel a project that is not going to deliver what the organization needs and could inevitably lead to a level of failure for the project and the project manager.

Picking the right projects – canceling the wrong ones – this takes courage and leadership – to me the very definition of a PMO that will allow it remain vital to the organization AND remain relevant.

About the Author: This post is submitted by Teri Dakan, a student in the 2010 Fall PMO course at UCSC Extension. Teri Dakan, PMP, when not cooking, works as a process specialist @ Telenav. Prior to Telenav, Teri was a Program Manager at headset company Plantronics. Teri’s career has spanned high tech, and architectural/engineering endeavors.


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