Project Management Office - The end of the solo project manager

Is the time of the solo project manager gradually coming to an end? Provocative thesis, but definitely a topic that requires closer examination. So much has changed in project management in recent years, sometimes very quickly, sometimes creepingly. One thing is certain: the role of a project manager has changed more than almost any other job description over the past 20 years. Structures and projects are becoming more complex, and strategic management has therefore never been more important. That's why author Christina Theodorou warns in an article on If your company has not yet developed a PMO, or Project Management Office, it's high time. Below we summarize her article for you.
In a notepad there is a blue Post-it in the shape of a speech bubble with the inscription "PMO".

PMO is like an orchestra

Unlike the solo project manager, a PMO offers a completely new approach to management. It enables the targeted distribution of projects, tasks and resources so that everything can be processed and completed on time. Christina Theodorou likes to think of project management as similar to working in an orchestra. A solo PM, on the other hand, would be like a single violin player, for example. Of course, much more can be expected from an orchestra than from a single musician. An orchestra consists of a wide variety of professional musicians with different instruments, and a conductor makes sure that they all come together and no one misses their cue. Only in an orchestra can all the facets of the individual instruments come together as a harmonious whole. For a company, this means that the results achieved by the joint work of a PMO are significantly more multi-layered, complete, comprehensive and thus naturally better and stronger than those achieved by a single project manager who takes care of everything and can only view everything from his personal perspective. A PMO department takes over all structuring, organizational and process-building tasks, which is considered the key to success.

From a practical point of view

A PMO department will increase productivity in your company. Christina Theodorou is convinced of that. A single PM can either move a company forward or fail trying. For an entire department to fail is almost impossible. The team keeps an eye on what's happening in the market and what's happening in the industry, and can introduce new tools and platforms and make updates at any time, while developing new products. More complex workflows and considerations are possible. Processes can be optimized and automated alongside daily work. A PMO department ideally works with all departments and reviews processes at regular intervals. If necessary, optimization proposals are developed jointly. The continuous cycle of development and improvement is not only part of the customer relationship, but is also important internally. Gaining and sharing information is always one of the key elements. Throughout the development process, success must be measured and the goal is always to keep everyone involved at the same level of information as high as possible. Christina Theodorou has had particularly good experiences with Q&A support material for internal teams.

PMO versus PM

PMO can revolutionize your project management. This requires an inclusive and understanding approach. In doing so, the PMO team is never acting on behalf of a particular agenda, but always acting as an intermediary between all departments. If the PMO succeeds, the entire company succeeds. In addition, it is becoming increasingly difficult for companies without a PMO to handle multiple projects simultaneously. Often, in this case, someone is simply appointed who is familiar with certain things, but who is not an expert in project management. A PMO department, on the other hand, can deal with the different opinions and needs of all parties involved and thus also manage the conflicts in the fast-moving and often turbulent daily work routine. Even the best project manager cannot take care of all these things alone. In the best case, he prioritizes skillfully, but that still means that many things come up short.

Coordinating the orchestra

Christina Theodorou is herself Chief Projects Officer in a Swiss company. She believes that PMO is responsible for success, especially in companies that are expanding. She sees PMO as responsible for bringing all the information and actions together and connecting the dots. It's about keeping track of everything. After all, there are usually multiple projects underway, all at different stages, all with important deadlines, and all needing sometimes more, sometimes less attention. Here, the PMO department needs to know exactly how the other departments are working so that everything can be coordinated and everyone can contribute their work optimally and, above all, at the right time. So the PMO team makes sure that everyone else comes into play exactly when it's important and that everyone always knows what the others are doing and - more importantly - what their own department needs to accomplish. The PMO department is the conductor in the metaphorical orchestra mentioned above.


Christina Theodorou strongly advises to set up a PMO department in a company above a certain size. In her opinion, in addition to various internal experts, specialists from the outside should also be brought in to accompany the establishment of the department and get the PMO rolling. Often, these experts are then project managers who have already taken on such tasks in other companies. They often also find it easier to take a more neutral look at the existing structures in a company and make suggestions for improvement.
Author: IAPM internal 

Key words: Project management, PMO, Tip, Employee management

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