PMO Speeds Success for Transportation Facility
In 2003 the United States Security Coordination Centre (TSCC) was given a task to construct the command, control and communication facility within the time frame of three months and using only $20 million. TSCC was also responsible for mitigating security risks. The success of the construction of the 200 square-foot facility, according to Curt Powell, the director of TSCC, was largely attributed to the extensive project management through PMO (project management office), which consisted of a team leader from a consulting company, master scheduler, a master financial manager, a procurement specialist and a civil engineer. Their contribution into strict adherence to the schedule and coordination of the resource flow have become a cornerstone for the completion of the primary construction phase of the facility already on the 24 July, 2003 (“Case analysis: PMO speeds success for transportation facility,”2004).
The main problem areas during the construction were the limited amount of time for a project of major importance with a large scope. The budget was also limited to $20 million only. Moreover, lengthy process of governmental authorizations, procurement and long time for approvals hindered both meeting budget and time constraints (“Case analysis: PMO speeds success for transportation facility,”2004).
Therefore, the main problem of the project was to complete the first stage of the construction in three months, using the limited financial resources, provided by the government. TSCC had to design a complex approach to the construction planning, in order to address both time and money constraints, through processes acceleration and optimization.
The use of a PMO was undertaken by the TSCC for the project. It allowed approaching the construction from different perspectives. Thus, the team leader was defining the general flow of the project, the master scheduler was identifying project’s critical path, the master financial manager was keeping the budget within the limits, procurement specialist identified and monitored the situation for the critical items, while civil engineer gave technical suggestions regarding material quality and prices. While the former two were making sure that the construction is completed within the predefined timeframe, the latter three made it possible to complete the project without going beyond the budget limits. Finally, the organization of finishing the construction in waves allowed simultaneous work on different components, thus reducing the time and money necessary for the projects completion.
An alternative to PMO, was involving project managers of external organizations, similar to SPAWAR (the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command), however this approach would have been associated with several disadvantages.
Evaluating the different alternatives for the project, it is important to consider the experience and knowledge of the external experts for system integrations. However, they are very closely associated with the parent company and often cannot completely become a part of the project, they are currently work on. Moreover, their services are usually very expensive, the fact which becomes important for projects with limited budget, as in the case discussed here. On the other hand, the use of PMO by TSCC had a number of advantages. It included both an external consultant leading the team, as well as the internal team of specialists with diverse areas of expertise. Their different background allowed to target several aspects of the projects such as procurement, technical components and budgeting, thus achieving positive results in all areas (Gonçalves, 2007).
Of course the advantages of PMO are not universal. While it was successful for TSCC, in a different setting the expertise of an external company might be crucial for success. Therefore, it is important to evaluate carefully each particular case and determine whether the PMO team has enough knowledge and experience to deal with the project of a certain level of difficulty.
Lastly, the use of PMO with a special person responsible for the procurement processes, allows to target better ethical and special issues involved into the process. In the case of TSCC it considers the specific requirements for quality and urgency of the procurement for the control and communication facility as well as the ethical implications of the construction (Pinto & Morris, 2007).
Case analysis: PMO speeds success for transportation facility. (2004). PM Network,
Gonçalves, M. (2007). Implementing the virtual project management office. New York,
NY: The McGraw-Hill.
Pinto, J.K., & Morris, P.W.G. (2007). The Wiley guide to project technology, supply
chain, and procurement management. Hoboken,NJ: John Wiley&Sons Inc.