The Project Notebook

Forms of PMOs: Departmental


When I was with Siebel Systems (now a part of Oracle) the Global Services organization had its own PMO. To the best of my knowledge, it was also the only PMO in the company and the Engineering function had a different management structure. The primary focus of the PMO was naturally on client engagements, but it had evolved into an interesting structure.

Roughly half of the approximately 30 people were considered the “practicing” PMO. The practicing PMO monitored client engagements to identify those with high risk, supplied senior personnel to review projects and project managers, and delivered a set of project related services to clients and client engagements. I was part of the other half which was primarily methodology development. We maintained and improved the methodology by which client engagements were delivered and managed and as well as created and maintained the project-related services delivered by the practicing side of the PMO.

Working in methodology was a really good fit for me. Having spent many years managing projects and creating tools and templates and no stranger to having colleagues around the world, I had a lot to offer. I created a Risk Assessment Workshop which was delivered by the “practicing” half of the PMO and developed and patented the Siebel Estimating Tool to estimate projects involving pre-written software modules. These were created in response to business problems reported by Global Services management and the practicing PMO.

The most interesting part of the PMO was that it was virtual. The manager was at Siebel HQ in San Mateo, my manager was in Atlanta, and I had colleagues in Denver, Mexico City, London, Sydney, and elsewhere. This meant lots of email, conference calls, and occasional trips to San Mateo and Atlanta for face-to-face meetings. So we were far from the “typical” departmental PMO.

I hope you found this brief profile of a specific departmental PMO interesting. Obviously PMOs of this nature focus on business and project issues of the department they are associated with. I’ll take a look at some other organizations in the future.

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© 2010-2012 Ray W. Frohnhoefer, MBA, PMP, CCP