Center Of Excellence

When companies reach Level 4, they are committed to project management across the entire organization. Project management knowledge is now considered as essential for the survival of the firm. To centralize the knowledge on project management, organizations have created a project office (PO) or a center of excellence (COE) for project management. Responsibilities for a PO/COE include:

• A strategic planning focal point of project management

• An organization dedicated to benchmarking for project management

• An organization dedicated to continuous improvement

• An organization that provides mentorship for inexperienced project managers

• A centralized data bank on lessons learned

TABLE 8-1. PROJECT OFFICE VERSUS CENTER OF EXCELLENCE

Project Office

• Permanent line function for project manager

• Focus on internal lessons learned activities

• Champion for the implementation of the methodology

• Expertise in the use of project management tools

Center of Excellence

• May be a formal or informal committee (may be part-time)

• Focuses on external benchmarking

• Champion for continuous improvement and benchmarking

• Expertise in the identification of project management tools

• An organization for sharing project management ideas and experiences

• A "hot line" for problem-solving that does not automatically inform senior management

• An organization for creating project management standards

• A focal point for centralized planning and scheduling activities

• A focal point for centralized cost control and reporting

• An organization to assist Human Resources in the creation of a project management career path

• An organization to assist Human Resources in developing a project management curriculum

Most companies view the PO and the COE as being two names for the same thing. There are, however, fundamental differences, as shown in Table 8-1. Despite the responsibilities, companies are struggling with the organizational reporting location of the PO/COE. There appears to be agreement that the location should be at the senior levels of management. Figure 8-2 shows a simplified organizational chart for a PO.

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