Project management is booming. The Project Management Institute boasts more than a half million members and credential holders in over 180 countries. Project management ranks third on "The Top \n\nFive In-Demand Skills" in U.S. News and World Report's University Directory. At the center of all of this project management activity lies \n\nthe PMO, the project management office. An obscure concept 20 years ago, PMOs are nearly ubiquitous today in a business environment focused on \n\nefficiency, standards, metrics, and repeatability.But all is not well in the PMO world. Resistance to PMOs runs high among line of business project teams. Projects still fail at a worrisome rate. \n\nTurnover among project managers remains high, creating inefficiency, and without project team cooperation, the PMO cannot perform its duties. Thus, \n\nthe mission of the PMO \u2014 to deploy a common set of project management processes and governance across the enterprise so that projects \n\nsucceed on time and on budget \u2014 has become jeopardized. The PMO can be saved, however, provided its leadership recognizes and avoids the following three common pitfalls that dog PMOs and their \n\nrelationships with business lines and IT. PMO Pitfall 1: The One-Way StreetReciprocity is a staple of all human interactions. Offering value for value expected lubricates everything from commerce to marriage to the \n\nplayground. How reciprocal is your PMO? They probably ask for a lot: a lot of forms, rules, meetings and deadlines. They expect timely reports and accurate \n\ninformation, all to be delivered by the project team. But do they report back to the project team with new information that drives better decisions? Do they offer personalized coaching to project team \n\nleaders running their projects more effectively? Do they work with the team leaders to make the PMO role understood? Are your PMO heads \n\nexpected to exhibit skills like leadership, communications, and the ability to influence people?I have had project managers say to me, "I give the PMO all my information all the time, but I never see it again. I get what the PMO needs, but how \n\ndoes it help me be better at my business?"Give to get. Return value to your sources. Remember, you have two sets of "customers" \u2014 executive management and the project \n\nteams.PMO Pitfall 2: One Size Does Not Fit AllMassive projects are complex and risky, and they must be managed accordingly. When your company is spending $150 million over five years in a \n\ncompetitive race to boldly enter a new business with new technology, you want a PMO that can get its arms around the whole monster. You want \n\ndetail-focused sticklers who value process as much as outcomes and who recognize the relationship between the two. No shortcuts, no apologies.But how many of your projects are of that magnitude \u2014 maybe ten percent? Most new projects are modest in scope. Most are routine \n\nmaintenance or repair \u2014 low-risk projects performed by the same team that got it right last year.Even with small projects, costs and deadlines still need to be met and reported in standard fashion for the enterprise. But does your PMO, on \n\nencountering a routine, low-risk, low-cost project sensibly limit what it asks of the project team, omitting certain requirements that are standard on \n\nmassive projects? Or do the same rules, protocols and forms apply across all projects, no matter what the size?The maturity of the project group should also play a part in the PMO's expectations. If a PMO staffed with long-time practitioners inherits a project \n\nled by employees who are new to the PMO environment, there are bound to be adjustments for both parties. They will unfold more smoothly if the \n\nPMO scales up its expectations over time, while the team builds its knowledge of the project and the PMO. Instead of asking, what is the full \n\ncomplement of information that will allow us to manage this project as we do others, ask, what is the most basic information we need for a successful \n\nlaunch of this project? Moderate PMO requirements according to the project's risk and the team's maturity.PMO Rule 3. How Am I Doing?PMOs are good at answering management's central PMO question: How are our projects doing? They tend not to be so experienced at answering \n\nanother question, probably because management doesn't ask it often enough: How is the PMO doing \u2014 from the standpoint of its \n\ncustomers?If PMOs tend not to be concerned about resistance or even a low-level rebellion by the project teams, it may be because, rules trump relationships. \n\nIf the PMO rules are satisfied, the PMO is doing fine.At one conflict-ridden PMO we were brought in to help, we asked the head to score his performance as he believed his business and IT customers \n\nwould score it. He acknowledged running about average with the line of business project team, but he was confident that all of the team members in IT \n\nwould rate the PMO as excellent. "IT gets us \u2014 they value what we do," he told us.We did a survey of the group VPs in IT. To a person, they said the opposite. "We'd be better off without the PMO," was the refrain. They \n\ncomplied with the PMO's demands, but that's all. With the business teams, the results were even worse.PMOs can't be the only place where poor working relationships miraculously have no negative effect on productivity and costs. Whether it's a \n\nformal blind survey, or informal but authentic questioning, PMOs need to know how their customers rate them and strive for better relationships. And \n\nmanagement needs to know, too. Otherwise, what the PMO gains in project efficiency can be squandered on organizational dysfunction.Cultivate relationships along with rules. Both will benefit. Know how the PMO is valued by its customers.The complexities of big, difficult projects lend themselves to pitfalls like these, and they can be exacerbated by the constitutional differences of the \n\npeople who tend to inhabit the business line versus the PMO. Just recognizing the pitfalls, and the damage they create among well-intended people, is \n\nhalfway to avoiding them.Adam Bookman is a Managing Partner in Collabera LLC's consulting division. Contact info. email@example.com, (416) 487-2759.