The contribution of the project management office to project delivery in the consulting engineering industry
Van der Merwe, Jean
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Effective project management (PM) is increasingly required for strategy implementation, business transformation management, continual improvement and pioneering product development and service provision. The systematic approach of PM (based on best practices and experience) aims to improve the chances of project success in a competitive environment where scarce resources (capital, human, opportunity, time, etc.) needs to be utilized most effectively. The contribution a project management office (PMO) can make in the medium sized consulting engineering industry to deliver more successful projects was investigated. The investigation involved determining the current state of both PM and PMO maturity in medium sized consulting engineering organisations in South Africa. Furthermore, the required maturity, or level of development, of PM and PMOs were also determined using the prediction orientated Delphi survey method. In the literature study, the concepts of PM, PMO and their maturity determination, successful project delivery, background to the consulting engineering industry in South Africa and similar PM and PMO maturity studies were investigated. From the literature study, an existing maturity survey was selected for each of the concepts PM and PMO. These existing and tested maturity surveys were combined into a single survey. Some demographic information deemed applicable from the literature study was also included in the survey and distributed in a multi-round survey to medium sized organisations similar to the author's organisation, operating in the mining and energy sectors mainly. The current PM and PMO maturity of the organisations taking part in the survey were determined in round 1 of the survey. The required PM and PMO maturity were determined from the round 2 survey results that were completed after the respondents were provided with the round 1 survey statistically averaged maturity levels in an effort to reach a form of consensus amongst the respondents. The round 1 survey was distributed to 161 respondents (response rate of 53%). Round 2 was distributed to the 86 respondents that completed round 1 (response rate of 55%). From the survey results and literature study it was found that there is a definite increase in PM and PMO maturity required in order for medium sized consulting engineering organisations to deliver more successful projects in the mining and energy sector. It was also seen that the maturity levels required for both PM and PMO are not the maximum maturity levels possible. From the empirical study, a definite relationship between PMO and PM was confirmed and it was seen that generally an organisation with a PMO tends to have higher PM maturity levels. For a PMO to be successful, from literature it was seen that the PMO needs to adapt to the organisation and environment it functions in. It was also discovered that a PMO is successful if it reaches the goals it set for itself. The PMO also contributes by systematically and continuously improving and adapting the PM of the company to add the most value to both internal and external customers of the PMO. It is the researcher's opinion that the study is not representative of all medium sized consulting engineering organisations in SA and further research is required to determine industry specific PM and PMO maturity levels and to determine the resulting contribution a PMO can make in this regard.