How to Remedy the PMO Blues

sad pmo teamMost companies find value in a Project Management Office (PMO). They realize that, in order to become better at delivering their product and/or service, they need to establish a project management methodology and provide project status and cost visibility to their management. Once the PMO is established and all project managers are executing the established methodology, the PMO starts to stagnate.

The project managers that have created the PMO are often billable resources. They are busy making the company money and have little time for managing and monitoring the PMO. Businesses are in business to sell their products and services. They are not usually in the project management business. In time, the company starts to wonder why their delivery is not improving or up to par … sounds like a case of the PMO blues!

PMOs often are started internally or with a consultant. They analyze how best to deliver the company’s products or services and incorporate best practices into a methodology that is used by all the project managers in the organization. This standardization alone improves delivery and provides management visibility to project status, financials and resources. The value of a PMO will continue to grow as long as there is governance and support of the project management methodology (processes and templates), tools and resources.

PMO Value Model

PMO Value Model

PMO Value Model

When companies start to see the value of the PMO in action, they enjoy reaping the benefits. Everyone is delivering products and services using the newly updated methodology, but no one is paying attention to the PMO upkeep. A methodology is a living and breathing entity that needs to be monitored, improved upon and enhanced as the business and the project managers evolve.

Although the PMO supports revenue generation, it is seen as an expense center. By not having resources to support the PMO, people tend to drift from the standard processes and templates because they are not improving upon their methods. Project managers are cutting corners on the delivery process to save time or costs while no one is monitoring the project manager’s execution and seeing whether the methodology needs to be updated or not. New project managers are executing the methodology with little guidance and training.

Management and sales see a decline in the delivery, but they don’t want to spend money on dedicated PMO resources. Instead, they want to go back to when the PMO first started and when the delivery was excellent. From here, it’s usually a death spiral to barely having a PMO and frustration mounts with the project managers and management. Does this sound familiar?

How to remedy the PMO Blues:

  1. Create a PMO revitalization project and assign a project manager. Yes, this is an internal project that has a cost and is an investment in the company; like hardware/software upgrades or training.
  2. The PMO revitalization project can be managed with an internal project manager or a consultant with additional experience.
  3. As with any project, make sure you have a sponsor/champion, a well-defined scope, and a target date that is achievable within the cost and timeframe.
  4. All shareholders need to be aware of the value proposition, the end results and what it’s going to take to get there.
  5. This project is priority one and will not be accomplished in people’s “free” time.
  6. Evaluate people, processes and technology to identify the gaps from where you are at and where you want to be.
  7. Determine KPI’s and measure the current status of the projects in the portfolio.
  8. Plan the PMO revitalization work and work the plan!
  9. At stage gates, re-evaluate to make sure the value is still there and attainable. If not, then determine how to get it back on track or cancel the project.
  10. At the end of the PMO revitalization project, measure the KPI’s to determine if improvements were achieved.
  11. Develop a KPI measurement schedule to make sure delivery indicators stay in the green! KPI’s will also track when things start stagnating again or start to turn south.

In summary, if you don’t have dedicated resources managing the PMO, the next best thing is to organize PMO revitalization projects. You won’t get the full benefits of PMO management, but you will get the boost you and your organization need to update processes/templates, upgrade software and retool the project managers to improve your delivery.

I hope this was helpful. For more about our PMO services and how we can fix your PMO Blues, please visit EPMA.