Establishing and Maturing a Project Support Office

Establishing and Maturing a Project Support Office

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A popular trend in project management is the Project Support Office (PSO) a.k.a. Project Management Office. Some organizations have established them as a result of having done due diligence and come to the conclusion that it is a good business decision. Others have established them just because others have established them and it seems like a good idea. These are destined for failure. In this report I intend to give you a primer on the PSO. This organization has several definitions and several different functions that it may perform. This can become quite overwhelming for someone who is not very familiar with the concept and its practice. In this executive report you will come to understand all aspects of the PSO so you can move forward with confidence knowing that it is the correct business decision for your organization and knowing how to establish one in your organization.

The history and formation of the PSO follows a similar pattern in many organizations. It begins with the practice of project management in a bottom up pattern. Its use spreads from individual to individual with each one using the tools, templates, and processes familiar to them. There may be some sharing across functions or lines of business but not in any organized manner. There is no standardization with each person or team doing their own thing. Sooner or later project management gains enough visibility to be seen as a corporate asset but the failure rate is unacceptably high. Something has to be done. Buying commercial training is one way and establishing a standard methodology another. Teams are beginning to use the new methodology but you are not satisfied with the results. Project failure rates are still too high... Your expectation is that everyone would be using it and that a higher percentage of projects would be successfully completed. So far there has been no measurable impact on project success. Something more needs to be done. But what can you do?

The next step is to buy insurance against project failure. The answer comes in the form of a PSO. Recognizing the need for a PSO is a major step forward but it is only one step and it is a small one at that. Much remains to be done to get the return on the investment. This report will prepare you with an understanding of what a PSO is, what they do, how they are structured and placed in the organization, and the steps to follow to establish an effective PSO. You will be fully prepared to take on the challenges of establishing and growing your PSO.

This chapter is structured along the lines of a PSO life cycle. In the first section takes a look at project management conditions that prevail and are indicators of the need for a PSO. In the next section I give a detailed definition of a PSO – its mission, objectives, organizational structures, and functions. The next section takes us through the steps that should be followed in establishing a PSO. The next section is basically a recap and an opportunity for us to discuss any outstanding concerns about moving forward with your PSO.