Programme Management Office (PMO) in the NHS

I found an interesting article on Camden PCT establishing a Programme Management Office (PMO) and realising the benefits of having programme management specialist run NHS projects. It appears that Camden PCT is taking a more proactive approach to project support.

What is a PMO and do you need one?

A PMO supports the delivery of a programme. A programme consists of a series of interdependent projects that are commissioned by an organisation (or group function such as an IT Dept) to achieve a strategic objective.

The top two reasons for setting up a PMO according to a survey conducted by PMI (Project Management Institute) are;

  1. Improving project success rate
  2. Implementing standard practices

Camden PCT identifies their main concerns and rationale for setting up a PMO as;

No central reporting function, which meant that there was no way of collating all the information on each project to analyse it and offer support. The other challenge was that projects were not being run in a generic way. There was no standard form of project management across the organisation

Setting up an office to manage programmes across your NHS could be a smart idea. It involves pulling together a number of different projects into a single initiative reflecting a broad Organisation goal. End of life care Programme and the new modernisation initiative focusing on the prevention, detection and treatment of Diabetes, for example, are programmes with several components and complex projects under its umbrella.

To manage all these projects, a separate team in the form of a Programme Management Office may be needed.

Programme Areas where the NHS has previously set up PMO’s include;

  • Dementia Programme
  • Cancer Programme
  • The National Programme for IT(NpFIT)
  • Stop smoking Programme
  • Breast screening Programme

Functions of the PMO;

The staff within the PMO will focus on a number of different functions to keep the various projects within the programme working smoothly together. The emphasis is on enforcing standard processes so that all projects are governed in the same way.

Other functions include financial control, risk management, the goal being to make sure that all the risks are owned and that all necessary risk mitigation activity is identified and undertaken. A further crucial element of PMO is change control.

Other areas of PMO functions

  • Project support
  • Project management processes/methodologies
  • Internal consulting/mentoring
  • Software/tool
  • Portfolio management
  • Home for project managers

PMO tasks are following up projects until completion, and reporting to the top management in a strategic purpose.

The proactive and experienced project management activities of a PMO can help ensure the benefits from project investments. The technology that supports the PMO should reduce waste and uncertainty in the environment, not add to it.  A PMO can only be effective if its goals align with business priorities and its tactics are compatible with corporate culture and capabilities.

A successful PMO:

  • Eliminates duplication of data and processes among Project Managers
  • Collaborates with organization staff to implement effective processes for managing all projects
  • Cultivates uncommonly high levels of cooperation
  • Institutes a new operating mode with detailed definition of process, roles, and measures
  • Promotes change from status quo, upstream and downstream of IT mission
  • Nurtures organizational neutrality
  • Instils a passion for the profession of Project Management’s processes, practices, and tools

University of North Texas; PMO Charter

The PMO is more than the staff that performs the project activities of planning, scheduling, communications or ensuring project delivery. Successful PMO’s can make a real impact on an organisation through projects and programmes being delivered in a more controlled, efficient and focused way, which ultimately results in them being delivered on time and to budget.

In establishing an effective programme office we have begun to enable the organisation to work in a common way to achieve each project’s differing goals thereby delivering benefits to the NHS’ Camden PCT

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