Projects are everywhere. Some are successful, some fail. In retrospect, most have had some room for improvement. Even experienced project managers and project teams need assistance from time to time. A Project Management Center of Excellence is a proven organizational resource that ensures better performance through consistent processes, intellectual capital, tools and hands-on support.

What is project management office PMO

It is the craft guild of master practitioners who lead, mentor and inspire the apprentices and journeyman. PMO can provide assistance (i.e., training, coaching, and mentoring) in using standard project management practices to achieve results. However, it is the gatekeeper and the steward of project governance.

The PMO provides project governance structures that involve both the project and the functional organizations. ‘Governance’ is a layer of control over the project that is exercised by, or on behalf, of the people who are paying for the project. It is usually at a higher level in the organization than the level of detailed operational control. It can involve the project sponsor, the project director and/or an advisory board or steering group, in addition to the project manager and core members of the project team.

What is a Center of Excellence ''CoE''

Centers of Excellence consist of units based at research institutions (the vast majority at universities) sharing a common idea or vision and an overall and clearly defined set of research objectives.

There is no fixed formula for creating a CoE. The centers may differ in size and mode of organization, depending on their subject and scope. Some centers become rather large during the grant period, employing more than 60 people divided into several research teams, while others have fewer than 15 members. The center must have a well-defined framework for cooperation.

Why Creating Centers of Excellence

As matter of fact, when governance, a support structure, guidance, measurements and shared learning exists across an organization, success is far more likely. Success will support organizational and specific projects goals. A need to gain results should be the primary motivation for creating any center of excellence. Or stated another way, the motivation/need for and expected results from a center of excellence should be well thought out and articulated unambiguously to server as the foundation for the creation of any center of excellence. Without this, it cannot be successful.

How to build your team and organize your PM-CoE

Briefly, the team needs to avoid becoming residents of an “Ivory Tower.” The team should be built from within the Project Management organization and high performing Project Managers should rotate onto the team and / or serve on a PM-CoE advisory panel. Additionally, high performing Project Managers should be called upon to review PM-CoE deliverables and to co-teach PM-related courses.

Team size is an issue. Ideally the core team should be no more than seven people – I pick this number because it is small enough still to allow everyone to feel ownership and responsibility, small enough for cohesive communication – we can all sit around a lunch table together; yet large enough for a bit of specialization and to bring in varied points of view. In addition to the core team, we need to look at the PM-CoE support functions. The size of the support component is governed by the size of the overall project management organization, number of and diversity of projects, etc. Support functions include, training and mentoring, a how-to hotline, project status monitoring, managing functional specialists and the like. A large or geographically diverse organization may require an accompanying large or dispersed support infrastructure. Nonetheless, the PM-CoE should not be in the empire-building mode.

Develop PM-CoE action plans and continuously monitor your performance

Apropos, building the PM-CoE is itself a project. An action-oriented project plan with specific short-term, mid-term and long-term objectives needs to be built. The PM-CoE’s performance should be managed accordingly. A most important, must-do action the PM-CoE is to continuously ask its stakeholders, “How are we doing?” This reflection of customer satisfaction coupled with formal measurement will help keep the PM-CoE on track addressing real opportunities in the project management space.

It should be clear by now that the PM-CoE focuses on process. Continuous Process Improvement should be an integral part of the PM-CoE. Hopefully, this is “preaching to the choir.”

  Centre of Excellence (CoE) functions or services:

1- Development of standard methods and processes.

2- Development consistent working practices.

3- Single source of standards and ensuring they are deployed appropriately and well.

4- Capability support (training and coaching).


Bakkah is a leading company in the field of PMOs management. To know more about the importance of PMOs, we advise you to read the following articles:


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