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5 Things a PMO Should be Doing Now

January 13 2018

Project Management Offices (PMO) are defined by their ability to deliver value to their organizations or clients. As PMO organizations mature it becomes harder for them to demonstrate their business value to the organization. Below, we have identified 5 things that PMOs should be focused on to get themselves to the ‘next level’ of maturity and business value.

1. Make sure you can deliver clear, measurable objectives beyond ROI

We have observed that many project proposals are submitted to the PMO organization — complete with management approval and funding — but without any clear measurable business objectives. By insisting that such measurable objectives be a required part of the business proposal, the PMO not only adds value to the organization, but can also save the PMO trouble down the road, when the lack of specificity in results becomes a sore point.

2. Speak the Language of the Business

Make sure that the justification for a project is consistent with the business strategy. Often, the business strategy is vague (“Deliver Outstanding Customer Service”) and a projects objective is more tactical (“Upgrade CRM”). Its imperative to align to two so that the project team knows what the underlying strategic objective is. We have seen too many projects completed on time and on budget but without delivering the business value that was sought.

3. Deliver Consistent and Reliable Results – Not Process

We have heard and seen this many times — “we have a consistent process that all projects must adhere to!”. This false sense of security that masquerades as project governance or PM/QA — while a valuable tool — does not guarantee reliable project results and success.

PMO leaders need to get out of the mindset of ticking the box — and focus on delivering reliable results. Project overhead needs to be scaled appropriately to the size of the project and the appetite of the business.

4. Identify Resource Capacity Constraints

Many PMOs we have spoken with are saddled with too many requests, too few resources, or the wrong mix of skills to achieve the project.

Regardless, the PMO leader needs to ensure that projects launch only if the resources are identified and in place before the project starts. Failure to ensure this basic project requirement means that — before it ever starts — the project has almost no possibility of completing on time.

If your PMO is one where you think your job is just to execute and you have no control over anything once told to start –we strongly suggest you flag the project risk immediately and get it documented that the project is inadequately resourced. Build in as much contingency time into the schedule as appropriate given the high probability that this project will be challenged.

5. Make the Business Case the Gold Standard

Unfortunately, too many PMOs rely upon the Project Charter as the primary document of record for initiating a project. While the Project Charter certainly should be a required document — realize that it serves a different function than the business case. The business case focuses on the “what” while the Charter focuses on the “how”.

There needs to be management and stakeholder consensus on what needs to be done, how much is worth spending to get it done and how value can be measured at the end. Everyone accountable for the success of the project must agree to the terms of the business case. If they cannot then there is no project. If no one really knows exactly how the project will achieve the business objective, there is no project. Only when there is agreement and the funding is approved can the project proceed forward.