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Connecting Organisation Performance To Modern Management Innovations: PMO

Human Capital and Competence Retention
An understanding of human capital as a source of value creation is of utmost importance in today’s global economy. However, with the increased mobility of the typical today’s “knowledge worker”, organisations now have an enormous challenge retaining their resources. The impact of the increased mobility is easily recognized when organisations repeatedly engage external consultants to augment in-house employees on activities that are supposedly routine. Having worked in the consulting sector for almost a decade, I have had a number of engagements that should not have been necessary if client organisations had been able to retain their resources or at least codified the knowledge of its lost experienced employees.

Mahoney & Kor, (2015), in their work on advancing human capital perspective, discuss the weaknesses and impacts of the traditional management model on human capital in today’s business context. Their paper presents some guidance on how an organisation can stimulate and protect its firm-specific human capital development and processes. They opine that when capability development through human capital investment joins an efficient governance approach, organisations easily build and enhance their core competence.  The governance approach mentioned here refers to the corporate governance policies, mechanisms and systems that an organisation may put in place to encourage the development and safeguarding of its human capital-based capabilities.

Project Management Office (PMO)
Project Management Office (PMO) is a non-traditional organisational unit that organisations create, chiefly to centrally coordinate their projects and time-bound strategic initiatives. Typical of innovations, there is a broad range of recent organisation creations that fit into the concept of PMOs. Academic and professional researchers generally agree that a successful establishment of PMO in an organisation positively correlates with the organisation project management capability. It is of great interest for the project management enthusiasts to see project management gradually taking the center stage of strategy delivery in today’s globalized economy. Industries now recognize PM skill as one of the de facto skills for successful management of any organisation ranging from governmental organisations to the various forms of private organisations.

PMO, and Organisation Competency Retention and Overall Performance
Project management competence retention is easily one of the major gains of organisations with PMOs despite that the typical short-lived structures within which projects are managed predisposes project managers to a highly mobile career life. Many organisations lack well described job role for project managers and neither do the organisations have defined career paths for project managers. Hence, the implementation and sustenance of PMOs within organisations provides a first attraction for project managers. The PMO soon becomes a base for human resources with core project management competence. The continued participation of these project managers in the various functional units of operations ripples such a highly valuable competence across the organisation. In addition to the PM competency being distributed throughout the organisations’ business units (BUs), the lessons learned by the project managers across board become process assets. These process assets form a valuable repository and a standards from which future projects may continue to learn from the organisations’ past. This level of involvement and relevance to organisations’ success alongside having PMO as a primary domain of function may well induce a developmental perception among the project managers and hence improve their retention.

Furthermore, the existence of a PMO as a functional unit easily breeds such developmental opportunities as promotion systems and formal training, which provides typical employees long term perspectives that some PM scholars suggest may yield improved employee retention. The popular notion that projects are a source of learning and creation of new knowledge, provides a perception of opportunity to learn and develop that is likely to improve the retention of employees. Where high turnover rate exists, it becomes unlikely that the organisation is able to accumulate and distribute individual project manager’s knowledge enough to actualize organisational learning.

It thus suffice to say that if competency retention is key to organisational productivity, an establishment of a PMO with all of the above mentioned potentials should continue to get the attention of management executives in the boardroom. Establishing a PMO will not only improve an organisation’s project management capability, it will enhance the performance of such organisation’s operations and delivery of strategy initiatives. Furthermore, as organisations retain their project resources and build an organisation-wide learning repository, they will increasingly be able to save on the cost of consultancy engagements and solve their problems internally. The PMO also ultimately serves as a viable training platform for future leaders of organisations while relieving functional employees their usual boredom that leads to switching organisations, when from time to time transferred to the PMO for projects other than what happens in their functional units. In the end, organisations do not only hold the prospect of retaining project management competence but the competence of their entire workforce and ultimately shortening the organisation’s learning curve to profiting.

(This article is written by Taiwo Abraham, MBA, PMP; A PMO Consultant at iCentra)

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