PMOs for Non-profit Projects

PMOs for Non-profit Projects
PMOs for Non-profit Projects

One of the many advantages of creating a project management office (PMO) is managing all kinds of resources. In the non-profit world, where volunteers often make up the majority of the workforce, managing these resources is crucial and essential for survival. In addition, I am critically working with several related community-based projects requiring a large volunteer base. Therefore, a PMO is needed to manage scores of volunteers in the following areas:

  • Initial outreach to recruit volunteers
  • Training efforts for all the volunteers
  • Volunteer task assignment and reassignment
  • Monitoring of volunteer activities and their hours since timesheets are required.

The PMO, by definition, is also a group within an organization that strives to standardize and introduce economies of repetition when executing various projects that may not be interconnected. If the projects were interconnected, then program management would be the appropriate approach. So, as you can see by the bullet items above, the PMO is a great approach when managing volunteers working on various projects with occasional overlap.

For example, one of the projects I am currently managing requires volunteer help to help raise funds through grant writing and application submittals, donation requests, and other means. For many of these volunteers, fundraising is a new “muscle” they had not used before. Therefore, they require training and coaching. And since, more than likely, they will continue performing this work on other community projects, the PMO can track their skill levels and training needs and reassign them to the next project when needed and if they are still dedicated to this volunteer work. Furthermore, the PMO is also the repository of training materials, logs, templates, guidelines, processes, etc. So, the PMO can also provide the needed materials to new volunteers and support the current ones.

To find the best type of PMO, it is important to note that there are three typical models, but, of course, you can always customize your PMO to fit best the project needs, as well as your stakeholders, the volunteers being chief among them. The three types of PMOs are:

  • Supportive – this PMO works more as a library or clearinghouse for templates, procedures, guidelines, etc. Their level of involvement in the project work per se is minimal. If the work you are executing is relatively straightforward and the PMO’s organizational process assets are all you need, then this PMO model is right for you.
  • Controlling – this PMO type provides the same materials as the supportive one but is more involved in the project. For example, if there are some compliance issues related to the work, then this model is best because they will check the work, which needs to meet compliance. For example, one of my current projects received grant money and required that local, small businesses perform a certain portion of the work. To that end, the controlling PMO will evaluate the procurement process and make sure that the aforementioned requirement is met.
  • Directive – this PMO is very hands-on and useful when the project manager needs assistance running the project. This is not the best way to execute a project, but it may be necessary if it requires more oversight and control than the PM can provide.

PMOs for Non-profit Projects

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