PMOs: Panacea for Managing Projects in Nigeria




sammyBy Sammy J Ojigbo

For years, Nigeria has struggled with the delivery of projects at the government, corporate and individual levels. They are either not delivered at all or when they do they are delivered late and at very exorbitant cost; far from the initial budget and poorly too. The reasons are not farfetched; poor planning, poor execution, inadequate deployment of resources and lack of stakeholder involvement coupled with poor project supervision across the entire project life cycle.
Most organisations worldwide are turning to managing their projects through the establishment of PMOs (Project Management Offices) as a way of effectively and efficiently managing their projects with a view to adding value not only to their project deliveries but also as a way of maintaining constant project delivery, continuity and repeatability. To this end enhance project cost control and product or service delivery is achieved and ensured.
Establishing and implementing a PMO instills project management discipline, provide structures, standards and methodologies to drive and facilitate project management processes within the Organisation and or government with a view to enhancing operational performance by completing projects on schedule, within budget and ensuring quality at all times.
Experience has shown over the years that most major projects are either abandoned, retendered or a new one started afresh once the governance is replaced, particularly if the incoming one is from a different political party. Projects are more often than not sited at inappropriate locations not because of suitability or proximity to outlet destination or the nearness to the source of raw materials but for other reasons that are either politically or sentimentally motivated. Sadly, at the end of the day the stakeholders’ funds are inappropriately deployed and the projects are either poorly executed or not delivered as planned. What is essential is that the projects for whatever they are worth must be seen to and should be delivered to the satisfaction all the stakeholders.[eap_ad_2]
Since governments come and go, it is imperative that government and or organisations at all levels should commence the establishment of PMOs as a way forward toward maintaining continuity in the management of the major projects irrespective of the constant and continuous changes that occur in governance and or corporate management such that at the end of the day, everybody benefits. A road construction project might have been started by a either government or corporate body and is unable to complete it during its tenure or may have been scheduled to span that of an incoming one; with a PMO in place such project will be completed despite these changes instead of being abandoned or not rendered for obvious reasons.
The need for PMOs becomes a necessity if we are to move away from the phenomenon of abandoned re-awarding projects. This is not to say that establishing PMOs’ will not have challenges or will they provide a one-time-final recipe for the delivery of projects and solving the numerous cases of failures but they will provide a lot of cost savings, benchmarking and an index for measuring project delivery and performance. In a survey conducted by the Project Management Institute (PMI); out of 450 companies surveyed, 67 percent, said their companies have a PMO. Of those with a PMO, half said the PMO has improved project success rates. There is also a strong link between the length of time a PMO has operated and project success rates; the longer the better. 37% of those who have had a PMO for less than one year reported increased success rates, while those who have operated PMO for more than four years reported a 65% success in the completion of their projects. The top two reasons for establishing a PMO, according to the survey are the Improvement in Project Execution Success Rates and Implementation of Standardised Project Management Practices. Many organizations who have a PMO in place, to help improve the success rate of their projects usually adopt one or more of the 3 types of PMO operating systems that are commonly in use.
Supportive PMO – is the most common and functions to empower project managers and teams to deliver their projects more successfully. It doesn’t control or direct projects, instead it focuses on supporting projects through training, mentoring, administration and reporting.
Controlling PMO – Supportive services may not be enough to put projects back on track. By offering controlling services (such as project reviews, audits, assessments and governance), the PMO can influence project delivery, enforce standards, implement processes and manage overall project risk.
Directive PMO
The least common, but sometimes most effective type of PMO, is one that offers directive services. In this case, the PMO does not just support and control projects, but it’s responsible for actually running them. In a Directive PMO, each of the Project Managers report to the PMO Director as their supervisor. This helps to coordinate all the project work within the organization into one department. This is recommended for Government, and Companies should endeavor to do just as has been mentioned; give the PMOs the free hand to management the projects without interference or micro managing both the PMO and the projects. Their focused should be on the performance of the PMO in project delivery and hold them responsible for the success or failure of any project; by so doing government or corporate managements can channel their energies towards realizing their corporate responsibilities of providing beneficial services to their Stakeholders internally and externally.
However, whichever is adopted, be it Supportive, Controlling or Directive, the PMOs are certainly responsible for the successful completion of the projects qualitatively and quantitatively. They are also to ensure the deployment of a common framework, processes and procedures that enables the repeatability of methodologies across all projects in other to achieve the desired results and create continuity irrespective of the changes in the government or corporate governance.
Although PMOs may vary from one organisation or government to the other, either in composition, structure, and methodology, the derivable benefits are enormous. They range from provision of supervision, development of processes and procedures that are consistent and standardised, creating a central project management portfolio, training and mentoring for local project managers and engineers, manpower development, standardization of project management tools (software, templates etc.),warehousing of a crop of project managers and engineers who can manage multiple projects. All with a view to ensuring consistency in project performance, producing quality deliverables and also building on previous experiences at levels of governance the country.
While Government and Organisations may exercise some restraints at establishing PMOs for a variety of reasons, it is pertinent to state categorically that the aim of establishing PMO is for Strategic Delivery of projects on Time and within Budget more efficiently and consistently through accurate cost estimating, project planning/schedule, execution and closeout to the satisfaction of all the stakeholders. PMOs, can help government or organisations to prioritise its developmental and growth programmes by appropriate allocation of its resources, human, financial and materials adequately in the course of executing their projects.

Dr. Sammy J. Ojigbo is the Chief Consulting Officer of NEMVAS International limited; the company provides Project Management Services for Major Projects, Project Management Training, Certification (PMP, CAMP, PMI-SP, PMI-RMP) and Educational Consultancy Services.[eap_ad_3]

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