You probably already know that there is a huge trend in modern IT management to outsource. Widespread acceptance of cloud and SaaS solutions have paved the way for other elements of IT infrastructure to be obtained “as a service”, including backups, disaster recovery, help desk and even data center management. Relying on the expertise of trusted specialists has many advantages, not the least of which is a more efficient use of resources.
After all, why spend a disproportionate amount of time and money on functions your team isn’t equipped for when you can leverage the right people, as needed, at a fraction of the cost? You’re relieved of the burden of maintenance and upkeep and able to focus on your core business and strategy.
This trend has lately extended even to the project management office (PMO). Today, outsourced project management is one of the best ways to execute new ideas and ensure results. There are numerous benefits to this new type of PMO.
Benefits of an Outsourced Project Management Office
Experienced Staff – Especially in a small to midsize organization, the necessary personnel to manage a particular project may simply not exist. A dedicated outsourced project management office will by nature maintain a variety of specialized talents and expertise on hand. Project management requires the ability to maintain a high-level view of business goals, while simultaneously juggling a large number of moving parts, from vendors to employees. Finding that skill set within your own organization is not always feasible. Even an employee who shines in their current role might require a long and expensive training period to take on project management duties. Outsourcing project management eliminates this ramp-up time.
Fresh Perspective – In IT as in most other departments, there is such a thing as being too close to a project. It can be all too easy to allow other business units or past experiences to influence the decision-making process when undertaking a new project. An outsourced PMO is an outsider to your company, and is immune to such pressures. A new set of eyes can do wonders for a project that seems to be floundering.
Cost Effectiveness – Staffing, training, and maintaining an in-house PMO is simply not feasible for many businesses. Budgets are often tight from small business to mid-market (and many times enterprise as well), and a dedicated PMO is often not on the table. Hiring several new employees who may not yield results for months or more is difficult to justify even for a company in expansion. Outsourcing the project management office is far more cost effective, as the groundwork has already been done. You can reap the benefits of an experienced project management team immediately, without an expensive and time-consuming hiring and training process.
Elasticity – Likewise, an outsourced project management office need not be permanent. Engaging a PMO service allows for resource expenditure to be scaled up and down as needed to suit the current needs (much like cloud). Having experienced project management talent available when needed, but not continuing to draw a salary when there are no projects on the line, is a boon to any budget.
Risks of Outsourcing and How to Mitigate Them
During the outsourced PMO selection process, and in the initial consultation with the vendor you select, there are a few items it pays to keep in mind. Some of the benefits of an outsourced PMO can be a double-edged sword if not managed carefully.
Trust – Any project manager, whether internal or outsourced, has access to sensitive corporate data. A data breach is just as damaging whether it originates internally or at an external PMO. Discuss your data protection and security policies with your PMO vendor, and ensure all safeguards are strictly followed. Proper IT security precautions must be adhered to for all communications between your employees and the outsourced PMO, as well as internally at both your company and the vendor.
Clear Communication – The fresh, outside perspective of an outsourced PMO can be a blessing, but it also requires careful and clear consideration of your business operations and goals. Do not rush the initial discovery phase, in which your PMO vendor can gain a thorough understanding of your project parameters and goals. Once work is underway, review milestone and task status reports frequently to ensure delivery dates are on track and stay on top of problems before they get a chance to boil over.
Employee Acceptance of External Management – From the standpoint of corporate culture, an outsourced PMO holds some risk of friction. Employees may overtly or subconsciously be unaccepting of an outsourced PMO’s decisions and processes. Regular status meetings can help avert this, as can fostering a strong collaborative environment. Above all, a few successes under the belt of a team under outsourced project management will do wonders. In other words, choose the right PMO vendor, and this problem will solve itself.