Office Administration

Project Management Office to the Rescue: How a PMO Can Help During a Crisis

Written by Laith Adel

The Project Management Office (PMO) is called the supportive backbone of an organisation for a reason. They are there to support your business through thick and thin. PMOs are the ultimate crisis management rescue team, not only for large-scale emergencies like a global pandemic but also for the everyday problems organisations face. From a key team member leaving to the loss of a critical supplier or even a high-profile project setback, PMOs are constantly combating hardships. So just how does a PMO help when facing difficulties?

Risk management alone is not enough

Risk management tools and processes have developed very quickly over the past decade, with technology becoming even more intuitive and accurate by the day. However, all these advancements have not been able to completely remove risk, with studies showing that major project failures are still occurring, particularly for megaprojects. As projects get bigger and more complex, even advanced risk management technologies struggle to account for ongoing instability and the pressures of time and cost.

The PMO plays a critical role in addressing issues of over-optimistic scheduling and cost estimations, lack of big-picture risk analysis and reporting challenges. Project portfolios are typically nonlinear and carry a significant amount of interdependencies that cannot easily be identified on individual project or program levels. 

The PMO is uniquely positioned to give organisations a birds-eye view of their activities, provide them with the necessary structure to give teams confidence and chart a clear route out of crisis.

8 ways the PMO supports businesses during times of crises

1. Giving stability and security through accelerated project governance

The PMO is the standardisation and process hub of an organisation. When projects are hit with a crisis, the PMO is able to provide the clear steps and guide teams through the proper processes to make sure they can find their footing. With a robust project governance structure, no team member will be left to struggle, giving them the necessary agility to tackle problems early on.

2. Communicating clearly with teams and stakeholders

Clear communication is absolutely necessary when a crisis hits. However, while many organisations may have their internal communications sorted, they can often sideline external stakeholders. The PMO can ensure that all stakeholders are being kept in the loop with effective, simple and timely messages. 

3. Prioritising the right projects

In times of crisis, it can be tempting to simply drop your projects and tighten your portfolio. The PMO plays a critical role of collating all the necessary data to give key decision makers an accurate view of their entire portfolio and allow them to prioritise the right projects. Without this, businesses could cancel projects that may, in the long run, hold the most value. Strategic alignment is often tossed aside for immediate cost savings and risk mitigation, but these choices have the potential to backfire if not supported by the right data.

4. Optimising resource management

A crisis often results in an extensive reshuffling of resources that can either lead to resource cuts or capacity overloads for pre-existing teams. As the central hub, the PMO can reorganise resources not just across projects, but the entire portfolio, to make sure they are being allocated to the most important and necessary activities.

With the help of proper software, this resource management process can be done quickly and in real-time to minimise resource and time wastage during the key moments of mitigation and recovery.

5. Elevating risk management

As mentioned prior, risk management has advanced significantly and the PMO is able to elevate a business’s risk management by collating it across their entire portfolio. It plays a key role in pre-emptive risk management by identifying all the potential dangers and clearly mapping out the proper processes to help effectively evaluate, prioritise and resolve them. With the help of smart tools such as RAID logs, the PMO can help build extensive risk response plans that can significantly reduce ongoing hazards.

6. Supporting decision making with real-time accurate data

During a crisis, decisions have to be made quickly and confidently. That is why real-time reporting and holistic visibility over your portfolio is extremely crucial – with better data, you can make better decisions. As the strategic hub of an organisation, the PMO is often an organisation’s repository for project data while also monitoring the everyday vitals of the portfolio. This further emphasises the importance of cloud-based PPM systems like pmo365 that can offer businesses the most accuracy, visibility and control over their portfolio.

7. Maintaining strong collaborative culture

The PMOs value is not only in processes and communication, but in managing people and culture. When things go wrong, teams may experience a breakdown of communication and unity. With its role as the supportive backbone, the PMO helps maintain a strong culture of collaboration and integration to make sure teams are openly sharing and working together to solve their issues.

8. Gathering lessons learnt to improve future crisis management strategies

The PMO plays an important role for future pre-emptive risk management measures by learning from crises and adapting the current processes to properly accommodate for these specific scenarios. Through documentation of lessons learned and open sharing of best practices, PMOs can build a more robust and sustainable business that can better survive challenges.

Don’t wait for the crisis, be ready for it

Pmo365’s solutions are built to give you complete control and visibility over your portfolio, so you can take the wheel in times of crisis. See how they can take your PMO and its crisis management activities to the next level.

“The opinions expressed by BizWitty Contributors are their own, not those of BizCover and should not be relied upon in place of appropriate professional advice. Please read our full disclaimer."

About the author

Laith Adel

Laith is the Principle Consultant and CEO of pmo365, located in Sydney.