Friday, May 24, 2024

The latest news from the world of project management

How to fail well...

Failure Is the new success. Here are five ways that you can embrace...

5 Skills Needed To...

Why do projects fail? It's a question that invites a lot of interest and...

Embrace the change: Getting...

New IT systems for a growing business can be an exciting prospect and...

Does a Project Manager...

What makes a successful project manager is a combination of their academic abilities,...
HomePMOThe Project Office...

The Project Office and What It Is Not

A Project Office is not set up merely to do all the paperwork and administrative tasks for a project. If that was the case you could simply employ an administrator but, in fact, the most successful Project Offices employ members who have project experience themselves and have often been involved in establishing an organisation’s project management framework.

Neither are these team members simply people who produce reports to send to senior management – they have an overview of a project that is impossible to achieve when you are closely involved in the detail. They will not lose sight of the original business objectives because they will not get bogged down in the minutiae of the daily tasks involved in being a project team member or indeed, the project manager.

The Project Office has little involvement in planning the project (except perhaps to provide useful templates) or in controlling the tasks, but is likely to become involved in analysing some of the budget and time reports supplied by the project manager in order to present to senior management the broad overview that they require. They are often more adept at doing this than the project manager simply because they are farther removed from the coal-face. However, it is the responsibility of the project manager to ensure that the reports presented to senior management do accurately represent the status of the project. Sometimes numbers and graphs alone cannot portray a full picture of what is really going on.

The project office should not be merely a bureaucratic group nagging over-worked project managers to submit their reports, but rather they should strive to be seen as (and actually be) a supportive group that assists the project manager to report the information that will enable them to accurately provide a representative image of the project. Good reports often take a long time to prepare and a Project Office that work collaboratively with project managers will find that the good working relationships built up will ensure that project teams appreciate their efforts in easing their workload.

So it is not the Project Office’s responsibility to ensure team members report hours worked, tasks completed etc each week. Nor is it their responsibility to analyse the status of the project or suggest any actions to resolve issues. These are the responsibilities of the project manager, as is the project plan – keeping it up-to-date and altering it when necessary. Alterations to a project plan are not an administrative job as they require a detailed knowledge of all tasks in the project, both complete and incomplete, and the skill ad experience to determine what can be changed and how.

No Project Office should be required to discuss the status of a project with senior management – they will certainly have been involved in producing reports based on the information supplied by the project manager but it is the project manager who is ultimately responsible for justifying the status of the project, the actions taken to resolve issues and any changes made to the project schedule. The project manager makes the decisions and the Project Office document the decisions. They then ensure all project documentation is available to anyone who requires it from both current and past projects.

This is an important task – complex projects may have hundreds of documents (all with a number of different versions) which need to be controlled and made easily accessible so the knowledge contained within them can be shared to improve future project delivery. A project office does not consist simply of good administrators but also individuals who have completed professional training, such as APM PFQ, APM PMQ (previously known as APMP) or PMP Certification and use the knowledge and skills gained on these project management courses to support the project manager.

Related Posts

Continue reading

Lessons in failure as a project manager

Whilst it is widely accepted that project failure does happen, it isn’t the easiest of subjects to talk about. However, the more we face up to it as an issue, the better prepared we will be to deal with...

How to guide a project involving huge change

In general, an enterprise is built around the expected, and whilst this doesn’t ignore the possibility of change it is more likely that this will be viewed as something that is constant and incremental in nature. Unfortunately, change isn’t...

Project Management in the Non-profit Sector: Maximising Social Impact With Project Management Tools

With many organisations looking to achieve a better social impact, non-profit organisations, in particular, are putting a greater emphasis on the use of project management to help with this. In order to be effective, project management within non-profits requires...