This is an area which is often seen as the stepping stone to managing your own projects but my role in this new team has taught me that PMO is a great, and fundamental, area in its own right.
On my first day in my new team, a colleague taught me a very useful analogy to help me understand the role they play; ‘The Racing Car Analogy’. Project Managers may be the driver of the racing car, but they also need to abide by the race rules, rely on the emergency services and check in at pit stops with their support team to make sure they stay on track, and this is where the PMO comes in - they support and give guidance to the Project Managers to help them get to the finish line.
My current role involves looking at how some of the projects in the Investment Bank are run, making sure they meet standards and best practices and creating a consistent process across all projects.
My first task was to put together a database of all the project initiatives currently running to ensure that we can keep track of progress and be as efficient as possible. There are numerous portfolios across the projects so this was a serious task! As a starting point, there were over 60 projects detailed in several directories, and many more that were not officially recorded and which had to be identified, so I very quickly learnt how to find the information I needed.
I am now looking after a portfolio containing 18 projects. I meet with the Project Managers every week to keep track of progress and record any risks, assumptions, issues and dependencies that may need escalation.
Having been part of the PMO for an exciting 2 months, I have learnt that driving a car may be thrilling, but learning the skills needed to make sure the driver stays on track and abides by the rules is just as exciting and as great a challenge.