January 7, 2020 • Henry Thedieck
Is Your PMO Effective? 3 Questions to Ask Your Project Management Office
A project management office can be many shapes and sizes. There are different types of PMOs and a variety of PMO functions. Some PMOs start out small and expand over time to become EPMOs (enterprise project management offices). Others start out big and are later narrowed to a more specific scope. So what do all these project management offices have in common? A simple end goal: effectiveness.
Despite the growth of project management over the past decade and recognition of its importance to companies and organizations across industries, project performance overall isn’t getting much better. According to the Project Management Institute’s Pulse of the Profession 2019 survey and report, organizations squandered nearly 12 percent of their project spend investment due to poor performance. This isn’t a new problem either. PMI surveys show similar numbers of lost investment during the past five years.
With so many organizations still struggling to create, build and implement successful project management offices, it’s worth asking… Is your PMO effective? Here are three big questions to consider when examining the effectiveness of your PMO.
1. Does your PMO create value for your organization?
In our previous piece on project management offices, we reviewed the three major responsibilities of a PMO. These included strategic planning, delivery support, and standards development. However, the overarching objective for any PMO is, first and foremost, to create value for their organization. If your PMO can’t prove its value, deliver services, or meet established goals, you have a problem.
In a 2015 research article, ‘How to Make Your PMO Survive’, the author introduced what he termed the PMO Value Ring framework. Consisting of eight steps, the framework establishes a process that an organization can follow to ensure a PMO is generating value for its clients, internal or external. Here’s a quick list of the eight phases and a key question you can ask for each to jump start your PMO and make sure it’s on the right track.
- Defining the PMO Services – Are the services your PMO provides those that your organization most needs?
- Balancing the Mix of Services – Is your PMO able to create value in the short-term and long-term with a mix of services to balance needs?
- Establishing Process – Does each PMO service have a structured process to follow?
- Defining the KPIs – How will you measure each PMO service to determine success?
- Headcount and Competencies – How do you define the headcount and skills needed for your PMO?
- Maturity and Planning – How should the PMO evolve and can you measure it?
- Calculating ROI – Did your PMO generate a positive result? How will you calculate this?
- Establishing a Scorecard – How is strategic monitoring of the PMO achieved?
2. Do people in your organization know what your PMO does and how to access it?
By now, you’ve determined that you have a PMO that’s creating value for your organization. Great! But having a working PMO isn’t going to be much help if no one knows what your project management office does or how to get in touch with them. Your PMO should be the first stop for anything project related within your organization. After all, a PMO is best positioned to facilitate the sharing of resources, tools, and techniques, and standardized governance processes during projects.
To overcome this gap, focus on getting the word out about your PMO. Market what your PMO does to the rest of your organization. One simple way to do this is to provide case studies and success stories which demonstrate the benefits of PMO involvement in projects. It can also be helpful to create and distribute a list of the services your PMO can deliver. That way, when new projects or questions arise, departments have resources they can quickly consult.
Last, make sure it’s easy to contact your project management office. If it’s too had to reach out to your PMO or the response is slow, departments are less likely to engage your PMO when they should. The overall result? A less effective PMO that isn’t able to fully support your organization’s needs.
3. What’s your PMTQ?
This question is for your project leaders and PMO team. According to the Project Management Institute, TQ stands for technology quotient or the ability to adapt, manage and integrate technology based on the needs of the organization or project. As technology continues to advance and the nature of work changes, PMI predicts an increased demand for TQ combined with project management. The result, PMTQ, will become a must-have skill for those responsible for making strategy into reality in a world constantly changing with new technology.
In order to achieve digital sustainability – the capacity to adapt to constant technology changes – organizations will need to be agile and focused, ensuring their PMO and leaders know new tech as well as they know project management. One way to do this is to make sure technology is a key focus, allowing project teams to harness new tech for a competitive advantage. It will also be important to build up TQ across the organization so that all team members, not just the PMO team, have the skills they need. Ultimately, organizations that can pair the latest tech with the personnel to manage it effectively will achieve the best project management results.
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