The Project Management Office Air Travel Analogy

Most people think that the role of the Project Management Office (PMO) is similar to that of an airplane pilot. It is their job to make sure that the plane gets to its destination without crashing into the ground.

While that’s true, and a critical role of a Project Management Office, it may not be their most important function. The PMO also plays the role of air traffic controller. That is, they need to prevent projects from colliding with other projects.

At Ministry Health Care we typically have 100 IT projects in flight at any time. All of these projects are competing for the same IT resources. If each of these projects are planned in a vacuum inevitably there will be midair collisions as different projects try and grab the same resources during the same time period. By tracking resource assignments on each project, the PMO can stack all of the projects on top of each other and make sure that no one resource is over allocated during a time period. This allows us to launch more projects, more quickly in the same period of time. Just like an air traffic controllers make it possible land planes more frequently using the same number of runways.