In the mid-1990’s, there came about a well-defined bit of cost-cutting wizardry called the “Center of Excellence.” The COE was well-defined both because of the intent of its function in organizations, and because of its innate irony; you see, a decade and a half ago, the Center of Excellence involved lay-offs.

The COE was fashioned as a method of saving money by centralizing the best of all duplicate resources inside a large organization into one place. This center would then take on the task of managing their piece of the organizational puzzle, while any similar divisions outside the center would be dissolved.

But, like many other accidental discoveries, something wonderful happened. Before long, the COE approach took on more than just a functional use inside the organization — the COE began to live up to its name.

In modern project management, the specific tasks that fall to the Center of Excellence varies quite broadly from organization to organization. However, there are trends and best practices that define the high level function of the COE in the Project or Program Management Office.

First, the Project Management Center of Excellence provides educational and intellectual resources to the project management function of the organization. It is here that the organization houses the body of standards and guides for excellence in the internal project management operation. The PM-COE is the home of organizational methodology for project management.

Second, the PM-COE drives hiring and training against those standards. Global organizations striving for project management excellence are benchmarking their own processes and procedures against results. Ensuring human resources are hired, trained, and prepared to deliver results falls to the PM-COE.

Third, the PM-COE defines strategy in project management for the organization. This is the primary resource for intellectual capital in the broader field inside the company and provides access to the tools and technologies project managers will need to accomplish their jobs today, and in the future.
Finally, the PM-COE really can help grow profits and cut costs. Perhaps it is in the managerial DNA of the COE concept, but when resources and tools are pooled in such a way as a function of the PMO, new opportunities for greater efficiency become naturally apparent.

The PM-COE is a partner to the PMO. While the PMO is focused tactically on managing projects and delivering results, the PM-COE becomes the pit crew, ensuring project managers are trained, equipped, and prepared for work. It becomes a symbiotic relationship, an invaluable partnership that invariably results in better project management.

Even more, however, organizations that have adopted the PM-COE model as a function of the project management office have demonstrated a tacit commitment to not just running projects, but to learning through project management, and defining the project culture clearly through eduction, information, professional development and strategic awareness.

Cadence is a key partner in advanced training and consulting services designed to assist organizations interested in maturing and growing their project management office initiatives. Contact Cadence today for more information.