Project Management Office PMO

Key Success and Failure Factors of the PMO

PMOs increase efficiency and effectiveness by standardising processes and defining best practices for the entire organisation. In this article, we will delve into Project Management Office (PMO) overview, and we will help you decide if it may be convenient for your team to have a PMO.

Setting up a PMO is a complicated and involved body of work, the duration of which can take anything from 6-24 months, depending on the scale. This journey brings many rewards but first, let’s see what’s involved.

What is a Project Management Office (PMO)?
A Project Management Office (PMO) is an internal or external team or group that oversees project management initiatives and standards across an organisation. Every PMO is unique. They ensure that projects are aligned with the strategy, help determine what projects should be done in the organisation and with what resources, and get projects delivered on time and within budget. In short, they add value.

What are the differences between internal and external PMOs?
An internal PMO is a team of its own that supports the proper development of projects. Internal PMOs are permanent teams that bring together the organisation’s processes and establish standards and best practices. Then, as the organisation grows, the internal PMO constantly supports the team with training, common standards updates, and ongoing standardisation of best practices.

On the other hand, an external Project Management Office is an agency or consulting group that collaborates with the best practices of the company.

The type of PMO you decide to invest in will depend on the unique needs of your organisation.

Why do people think they need PMO?

5 reasons:

  1. Standardisation improves efficiency
    Bringing all project activity under the umbrella of the PMO means that you can introduce standardisation. Not only does this save time, but it also makes it easier to collect data, which brings us to Reason #2.
  1. Data
    The data from PMO can come in handy while making crucial decisions regarding projects and improving Enterprise-wide performance. These give you the option to compare projects, bundle them together, share resources more effectively, and report in a standard way that anyone can understand and gather best practices.

  1. Quality Check
    If quality checking is part of the PMO function, you should expect to see issues earlier and have fewer projects ultimately fail to meet their objectives.

  1. Share, Train, and Educate
    Knowledge sharing is helpful and could fuel the project to completion. By helping to hone project management skills, the PMO provides the professional support that can produce not only better-skilled personnel; but also, team leaders who feel valued, which can contribute to employee retention.

  1. Strategic Alignment
    The real benefits of a PMO come when you are able to make the right decisions around project selection, choosing the initiatives that will bring the most benefit to the company. To do this, your PMO needs to be aligned with the business strategically.

Role of PMO?

PMO teams fulfil a range of functions on a day-to-day basis including:

  • Developing project management methods, best practices, and government standards,
  • Encourage the use of those standards,
  • Managing resources for projects,
  • Reporting and preparing different types of analysis,
  • Delivering training and mentoring project team members,
  • Managing dependencies across multiple projects,
  • Monitor and evaluate project performance to establish goals
  • Coordinating project-to-project communication

Key success and failure factors:

Key Success Factors:

  • Strong, dedicated PMO leadership: it involves guiding and influencing people and their behaviour, establishing the team itself, and creating motivation, but it is also responsible for defining the climate, culture, and policies of the organisation, so that it plays the most complete role.
  • Experiences personnel: The value of a PMO depends on people. The team of a PMO needs a group of professionals with different skills, experiences, and knowledge that together produce outstanding results.
  • Processes, polices, and templates defined: The integration of PMO must be done with a planned process. The idea would be to start by creating documentation, introducing reports and templates where Project Managers can see a high value, then adapting the PMO according to the needs of the company.
  • Executive backing: PMO’s success depends on appointing the right person to promote it. Sometimes they’re going to have to demand unpopular changes, so the only way for them to be successful is with backing from management, and with clearly defined responsibilities and competencies.

Key Failure factors:

  • Lack of trust: Communication is one of the most essential soft skills every PMO should have. Some PMOs fall into the trap of believing that weekly reports are sufficient for communicating with stakeholders and believe that all relevant information is passed through them. However, communication for PMOs is not simply about getting data and insights but is also about building trust.
  • Lack of strategic vision: Aligning projects with an organisation’s strategic goals is critical to the success of any project. PMOs that perform a largely administrative role, such as project status reporting and performance reporting, are less successful than those with a strategic role. In fact, an emerging reason for organisations to introduce PMOs is to increase their strategic position.
  • Lack of a metric-based approach: A key performance indicator (KPI) or metric is a measure that companies use to assess their performance. Measures can be taken to correct mistakes and perpetuate good ideas. In other words: the use of project management indicators is essential to prevent problems, mitigate errors and lead the team in the pursuit of the objectives of each stage with more confidence. Unless a PMO leader has an analytical mindset and is comfortable with metrics, a PMO won’t be successful.
  • Working without framework/methodology: A project management framework consists of the processes, tasks, and tools used to carry out a project from start to finish. It covers all the key components needed to plan, manage, and direct projects. The creation of a project management methodology, accompanied by forms, guidelines, templates, and checklists, has the benefit of providing standardization and repeatability. By providing a framework/methodology for better project management and delivery, PMOs support the strategic objectives of their organization – ensuring projects are aligned to top-level goals, achieve high-quality standards, and are delivered on time and on budget.

PMO Journey – Final Thoughts:

Aspira can offer different blends of services to a client in setting up a PMO.

  • Aspira can be tasked with delivering the PMO and will provide consultants to do so.
  • Aspira can provide the roadmap for PMO implementation and hand it over to the client for them to deliver.
  • Aspira can provide the roadmap for PMO implementation and support the client in their implementation through dedicated mentoring.

Aspira are experts in PMO Delivery and Support, please contact the Advisory Team to book your PMO setup consultation today.

Damien Kearns - Head of Advisory

Damien Kearns - Head of Advisory

Damien is the Head and Principal Consultant for developing the Advisory line of business and leading the team for the delivery and execution of consultancy engagements. Advisory Services include PMO Audits, PMO Set up and Governance, Project Audits, Project Initiation, Project Maturity Assessment, Project Mentoring, Project Recovery and Project Scheduling.

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