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The Project Management Office (PMO) is “a group or department within a business, agency or enterprise that defines and maintains standards for project management within the organization” (Tech Target, 2016, para. 1). PMOs have a number of responsibilities and objectives and in different organizations, exercise different degrees of control. The main types of PMOs include supportive, controlling, and directive project management offices.
It does not matter which type of PMO operates within a company, but supportive, controlling, and directive PMOs require the technical support of the interface management units. Interface management helps PMOs to define, organize, maintain, and communicate information that exists in various forms that include data, software, tools, and services in order to facilitate the management of the project process. Morris (1983) defines two types of interface management: static and dynamic. In a contemporary context that implies the constant change of technologies, static interface management seems to be irrelevant and has already given place to the dynamic interface management.
PMO and Interface Management
A project management office, or PMO, is a management unit that is aimed to unify the project-related management processes as well as simplify and speed up the sharing of resources, instruments, methods, and techniques between other units of a company. Tech Target (2016) defines PMO as “a group or department within a business, agency or enterprise that defines and maintains standards for project management within the organization” (para. 1).
The principles of PMO’s functioning started to develop almost twenty years ago, along with the definition of PMI. Currently, these principles include a long list of responsibilities starting from the provision of PM support functions to the direct management of several projects at a time. However, according to Chinni (2014), PMOs place only two responsibilities to the foreground: “governance, standardization and resources” and control (para. 6).
Thus, the primary objective of PMOs is to find the methods of profitable standardization of project management policies. In the longer term, PMOs may become a strategic part of the organizational process providing the guidance and metrics for the implementation of various tasks as well as following them up until the completion (Tech Target, 2016).
Types of PMO
Currently, there is a classification of PMOs that is based on the degree of control and influence that they exercise in the framework of an organization. This classification includes three types of PMOs: supportive, controlling, and directive. Supportive PMOs exercise the less amount of authority. As a rule, their task is to support the other units of the organization when it is necessary by consulting, advising, providing templates and access to information, etc.
Such type of PMO is suitable for those companies where the working process flows without serious problems and does not need special control. In this case, PMO functions as an information service unit (Project Smart, 2016). Controlling PMOs have more power of monitoring within the organization. The support of controlling PMOs is not optional but necessary for the units of a company. Such PMOs design certain templates, forms, rules, tools, instruments, and methods that unify the project-related management processes and oblige all employees to use them in their working operation. Moreover, controlling PMOs may require regular activity reports; however, this measure is not mandatory (Project Smart, 2016).
If the operation of controlling PMOs is aimed at control, directive PMOs “take over” the whole projects of the organization (Project Smart, 2016, para. 4). They fully support, control, and manage the project process. Apparently, such type of PMO implies a high level of professionalism and guarantees the first-class quality of work. However, it may involve the employees in a complex multiple-authority structure that is not relevant for small companies and proves to be effective in large corporations.
Interface Management implies the system of activities that help to define, organize, maintain and communicate information in the form of data, software, tools, and services in order to facilitate the management of the project process (Morris, 1983). Currently, the majority of organizations work with external interfaces that allow for the combination of different tools and systems. All these interfaces should be maintained in a manner that will enable their effective use. Thus, the main three objectives of interface management are the development, operation, and maintenance of such interfaces.
Morris (1983) distinguishes seven main types of interfaces, such as data interfaces, software and hardware interfaces, application program interfaces, service interfaces, communications interfaces, and signaling interfaces. Each type of interface is important for the support of modern project management systems, especially considering the fact that nowadays, many organizations operate in different locations and countries. Interface Management is exercised on the border of traditional management and the sphere of information technologies. It involves engineering activity that is concentrated on the architecture, development, and application of the interface.
Types of Interface Management
There are different classifications of Interface Management types that are based on different criteria such as agents that exercise the control of interface design, or the types of interfaces, etc. The most reasonable classification seems to be the one that concerns the types of interface development that can be either ongoing or not. Thus there are two types of interface management: static and dynamic (Morris, 1983).
Static interface management implies the fact of single interface development for certain functioning purposes (concerning a PMO that will be using this type of interface system). For this reason, static interface management seems to be ineffective, especially in a world where technologies change every day. On the contrary, dynamic interface management maintains various interfaces along the way of project development, thus “adapting” to the project. In this case, managers may modify interfaces depending on organizational objectives: in crisis situations, for example, a company that had controlling PMO may restructure it for the directive functioning, and interface managers will have to modify some of the interfaces in order to comply with new targets.
In a world where companies tend to expand and gain influence in order to take their niche, organizational management is a crucial part of the operating process. Project management is one of the wide range of types that deals with project-related processes that should be standardized and simplified in order to speed up the sharing of resources, instruments, methods, and techniques between the different units of a company.
Project management offices may exercise different degrees of power, which allow for their classification into supportive, controlling, and directive. Each of the types is suitable for different organizations, and there is always a possibility for a company to change the type of its PMO for certain purposes. Interface management supports the project management as it provides it with various types of interfaces that allow for the development of templates, forms, rules, tools, instruments, and methods that standardize the project-related management processes.
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Chinni, A. (2014). Roles and types of PMO structures. Web.
Morris, P. W. (1983). Managing project interfaces: key points for project success. Project management handbook, 7(2), 16-55.
Project Smart. (2016). The three different types of project management offices. Web.
Tech Target. (2016). Project Management Office (PMO). Web.