By Gene Tyndall
Executive Vice President, Tompkins International

Learn more about the importance of the Program Management Office (PMO) as viewed from the Chief Supply Chain Officer (CSCO) level and how it is best organized, staffed, operated, and value-based. I will briefly describe leading practices and provide guidelines for supply chain leaders seeking transformative improvements in their operations.

The standards for the Program Management (PgM) process have evolved over the past 10 years. (Spell this out?) PMI has only within the past few years provided guidelines and certifications for the Program Management Professional (PgMP). The PM role is to manage an individual project, the PgM responsibility is to manage in an integrated and synergistic manner, multiple-related projects (sometimes referred to as the "portfolio of projects"). The PMO sets the common language, establishes the project links, and provides the basis for management decisions.

Just as the PM role is now supported by project management support, the PMO has evolved with the introduction of technology and its ability to enable a more virtual process, and not necessarily within a physical entity. The principles of the PMO have not changed, it remains the preferred process for managing multiple initiatives or projects in an integrated and synergistic manner, and provides the platform for related management decisions.

The use of PMO for supply chain management is also relatively recent in its adoption. A few leading companies undergoing supply chain transformations or adding new important programs have adapted the PMO for managing the multiple-related projects that impact the supply chain processes, practices, and organizations (not only technologies). They have "located" the PMO outside of the IT organization. PMO has been placed at the center of the CSCO level or with another C-level, depending on the scope of the program and the corporate organization.

What you need to understand in order to improve the use of the PMO and how to gain the most value from its effective operations are the following:

  • The Organization of the PMO
  • The Project Manager (PM) vs. the Program Manager (PgM)
  • When the PMO for Supply Chain Programs is Preferred
  • The PMO and Knowledge Management
  • How the PMO Affects Change Management
  • The Tools for the PMO

Following the principles of strong PMO development, organization, planning, and execution, the PMO will add value and the value will be recognized. The companies that make effective use of the PMO end up being more efficient and reach higher levels of performance. Due to the rate of project success increasing, fewer mistakes or do-overs are necessary, and the program achieves benefits faster and longer.

Each supply chain organization needs to decide for itself whether or not the use of a PMO will add value to its goals and objectives. Once that decision is made its planning and execution needs to be consistent with any other well defined process.

While these requirements may seem daunting, the value of the PMO can well exceed the effort required. The benefits of time, costs, and quality are possible. This can be achieved by a well-planned and a well-executed PMO.

To better understand the details on how to implement a successful profitable PMO, read our white paper: Program Management Office: Its Objectives, Methods, and Value for Supply Chain Management