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What Makes an Outstanding Healthcare PMO?
By Patrick Howard

A Project Management Office (PMO) is general terms is a group within an organization that has a primary goal of maintaining standards of process as it relates to project management. The PMO is tasked with standardizing redundant tasks and introducing economies of repetition in the execution of projects. As with most tasks that follow a process, repetition and adherence to standards can reduce mistakes and increase the quality of the outcome. As the saying goes, “practice makes perfect.”

To accomplish this standardization, the PMO is the source of documentation, guidance and measurements on the practice of project management and execution.

So, how would a healthcare PMO differ from that of a typical PMO? Lets consider it a given that a successful PMO will use industry standards methodologies and tools, such as PMBOK, Agile or SCRUM. Those best practices relate to the art and discipline of managing projects on the broadest of terms. The collective knowledge of project management can be applied to many disciplines and business models.

What makes a PMO within a healthcare organization’s IT shop successful? For a PMO in a healthcare business to achieve peak effectiveness, the group must have specific knowledge of healthcare subject matter. Healthcare is rich with government regulations which constantly change the landscape of IT. New legislation is written almost daily which mandates changes in healthcare organizations. The IT departments and PMO within healthcare organization must constantly stay informed of these changes and navigate the treacherous waters of implementing changes in existing enterprise systems.

The language and nomenclature of healthcare is vast. Commanding the lingo of healthcare as it relates to information technology projects can take many years to master.

An experienced and seasoned healthcare PMO has these environmental aspects of healthcare woven throughout the DNA of its members.

An integral part of the PMO is the ability to analyze the requirements of the healthcare business. The seasoned healthcare PMO has members that are fluent in the dialect and acronyms of the business of healthcare. This knowledge and understanding is critical in reducing misunderstandings and acts as a filter to the technical side of the IT function.

Verbal and written communication skills are critical to successful PMO function.

Knowing the healthcare parlance enables the members of the PMO, from business analysts to project managers to grasp key concepts and translate those concepts into action. It is also important to mention that the lack of understanding of healthcare phraseology and terminology can lead to disastrous work estimation mistakes, wasted time and money.

In summary, I believe that an outstanding healthcare PMO has a solid foundation in project management best practices. Built on this foundation is a group of seasoned professionals that have invested significant time learning the business and language of both healthcare and information technology.
How are projects managed in your organization?

D. Patrick Howard is the COO of Pranagy Unlimited LLC. Pranagy Unlimited is an industry leader in health care technology project management services. You can learn more about Patrick by visiting his LinkedIn profile:

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