A new study* found that nearly half (50%) of Project, Programme and Portfolio Management Offices, or PMOs, rate themselves as fair or poor in terms of their effectiveness. This is terrible, especially since the survey was completed by the PMO team and their close friends. There can’t be job satisfaction for people who have a PMO because the purpose of it is to improve an organisation’s effectiveness.
The study identifies the main purpose of a PMO as follows:
To provide a group that supports and integrates operations across organizational boundaries. This is done by providing services that directly or partially address the root causes of the problems being faced.
The study identifies the main problem with departmental silos as the main challenge. This problem is less if your PMO only serves one department (and only 26% claim to be enterprise-wide). Imagine your PMO only supporting IT. How many IT projects only impact IT? The PMO will still need customers from within the organization to collect data for reports and dashboards. Reporting and dashboards are one of the most important things that PMOs do.
A PMO is not just capable of producing good reports. These were the factors that were associated with an effective PMO according to the research:
A high level of process maturity.
C-level executives report to teams, with the CEO reporting to the most effective.
Although there are between four to six dedicated staff members, further analysis shows that more staff equals greater effectiveness. However, the researchers don’t believe this correlates with staff numbers. The study found that the most effective PMOs have more than 15 employees, but if they only had 20 people, it would be difficult to say that this team was effective in business terms.
Being around for a long time. The most successful PMOs have been around for four years. Survey participants stated that the PMO became effective after three years. It’s a long time to expect business benefits. Although they didn’t mean that the PMO team would be useless for the first two years, it takes time to get used to the new way of working that a PMO provides.
It is difficult to influence all of them. You won’t be able change the structure of your line management if you are a project manager for a PMO. You will be ineffective if you report to a business unit vice president. It doesn’t matter how long the PMO has been around, you can only change the fact that it has been there for three years and people are unable to imagine life without you. There are still things you can do to increase your effectiveness.
Terry Doerscher, Chief Process Architect at Planview, who commissioned the study has the following recommendations.
Compare your PMO to other sector leaders. This is a daunting task if you want it to be done correctly.
Assessing the performance of your PMO is a huge undertaking. It involves identifying areas where processes are not performing well and fixing them.
Doerscher suggests that everyone understands the PMO. He recommends that they have clear objectives and that it is communicated to all employees.
You must ensure that the PMO meets these objectives. A large enough team is necessary to be able deliver everything you have set out to do.
You can get your PMO executive sponsorship without changing reporting lines if you find an exec who is a believer in the PMO concept. They will spread the word if you do a great work for them or her. Guerrilla PMO!
Finally, don’t get caught up in the day-to-day admin. Instead, spend your time doing amazing work on business strategy.
These types of initiatives are unfortunately not feasible.