I like principles - a simple set of statements that outline the broad expectations and parameters for how things are done. Good principles tend to be resilient and adaptive to changing conditions while allowing people to exercise good judgment.
Here's my first one.
The PMO exists to support the creation of value.
That is not a simple statement.
Value for whom? One of the traps that a PMO can fall into is in defining the value it creates too narrowly - the mantra of PMOs usually is that the PMO serves "the business" by ensuring that projects are delivered on time, on budget and to specification. But the role is larger than that. A PMO assists our colleagues in creating value for our stakeholders: students, faculty, staff and the community at large.
How is value defined? Like beauty, value is in the eye of the beholder. One important role for the PMO is to work with our colleagues to determine what value is being created through projects, and for whom.
How is value measured? Once we understand what value is being created and for whom through project work, the PMO assists our colleagues in measuring value realization. This is the only way that we understand if we are doing the right things.
How do we choose which projects are valuable? Like risk, value is traded off. When one project is selected and funded over another, potential value has been traded off. We have to do this, because while we could do anything, we can't do everything. In order to support such difficult trade offs, we provide information to decision makers to support timely, effective decisions. We also support our colleagues in making an effective case to decision makers.
As I reflect on this, part of me wonders if this is too esoteric. However, considering the implications of this statement and the how it shapes behaviours and decisions, I think it's worth considering carefully.