August 7, 2019 | by Barbara Nicholas

The Power of The PMO

In the wireless telecommunications construction industry, a Project Management Office (PMO) is the exception rather than the rule? Why? 

The primary reason for PMO scarcity is that few organizations understand what a PMO brings to an organization. The functions of the PMO and Project Managers are often conflated, and since Project Managers are already in-place, a PMO seems redundant and unnecessary.

In fact, a Project Manager may be the most outspoken opponent of the PMO – until he or she learns how the PMO supports the PM and his or her projects. Within a healthy PMO, the primary responsibility for managing the project rests with the PM. The PMO provides support, tools, and governance that allow the PM to perform at their best.

What Does the PMO Do?

If the PMO is not managing projects, then is the office purely an administrative function? No. 

The PMO is so much more than admin. A PMO, like that at Vertex, manages, supports, and develops standards, education, and continuous improvement. These standards and educational opportunities improve the efficiency and effectiveness of every PM in the field.

Many Project Managers spend their days in the field, jumping between field sites, vendors, suppliers, and customers all to keep projects running smoothly by removing roadblocks and facilitating task completion. It can be challenging to get all of the information gathered in the field back to the home office and receive feedback.

The PMO bridges the space between remote PMs and the home office by providing communication and collaboration support and linking those in the field with those in the office.

Your value will not be what you know; it will be what you share. - Ginni Rometty, CEO, IBM

How Does the PMO Support Project Managers?

The PMO provides PMs with support, mentorship, education, guidance, and governance. 

Project Managers often have extensive reporting requirements that may keep them tied to a desk when they should be in the field. The PMO can step in to alleviate some of this burden by sharing knowledge and getting requests from the field to the right person in the office. 

At Vertex, each region is assigned a dedicated Project Coordinator who is readily available to help PMs fight fires, alleviate bottlenecks, and solve project-slowing problems. This approach to team collaboration has created a precedent of knowledge sharing. 

Project Managers also rely on the PMO to provide reporting and documentation support, which enables PMs to do more of the work they love.

PMO Supports Education and Mentorship

From their first day on the job, Project Managers are supported by the PMO. Training begins by spending time in the PMO to learn about all of the resources that are available. In addition to learning about PMO support, new PMs are thoroughly trained on all of the tools Vertex uses so that from their first day in the field, they are educated and ready to go.

When the PM starts in the field, the PMO provides constant check-in and support for the first 90 days. After the first 90 days, the PM is assigned a local mentor who provides support and guides he or she past potential pitfalls. 

The support of the PMO gives our new PMs more certified training in the first 30 days of employment than many would receive in a year of employment at another firm. The scalable, flexible design of the PMO allows every Vertex team member to access industry standards and best practices from anywhere in the field or the office. With the backing of the PMO, our PMs have the resources they need to implement and adhere to those standards.

Efficiency and focus are the keys to success. – Robert Crais

Realizing New Efficiencies

The implementation of the PMO has brought in new efficiencies, both expected and unexpected. 

With additional reporting support, Vertex expected more efficient projects. What was unexpected was the overwhelming change in the atmosphere of everyday work. Since implementing the PMO, there is a greater sense of connection between the home office and remote workers. The PMO is providing more than just governance; it is giving field workers a renewed passion for growth. 

This passion for growth has allowed the team to tap into existing staff and allocate five to ten percent of an SME bandwidth to mentor co-workers. This has the doubled effect of building relationships within and increasing the overall capacity of teams.

What Does the PMO Mean to Vertex Customers?

As a direct result of the PMO, Vertex customers have increased communication on individual projects, including overall priorities and project status. If roadblocks or changes in the project occur, the PMO supports the PM as new resources are brought in or adjusted. 

Since the PMO provides reporting support, customers can expect to receive project updates that include their specific metrics, requirements, and measures of success, leading to increased transparency and greater customer satisfaction.

The Vertex PMO diligently works to support project managers and their project. Our scalable model ensures every project, of every size, achieves budgetary and schedule efficiencies even as our PMs take on more projects. Project documentation is completed thoroughly and expediently, and communication within individual projects is smooth and effective. The PMO positively influences many aspects of Vertex's operations to save our clients time and money.