In recent discussions with a group of PMO Leaders, the conversation turned to a discussion on why is there so much volatility in the success of a Project Management Office (PMO).  There are a variety of opinions, from people who don’t understand the value of a Project Leader, to a Project Management Office is not considered a “Profit Center” and, as a result, is the first-place budget owners look when they have to cut budgets.  Personally, after having been in this industry for many years and having worked for a variety of organizations and organizational structures, there is, in my opinion, a consistent concept that exists in Project Management Organizations that get shut down or rebooted.  That concept is a leadership belief that their primary function or organizational mission is “Successful” Project Delivery.

This limited focus or perception to me is the fatal flaw in many Project Management Offices.  Don’t get me wrong, successful Project Delivery is a core tenet to the success of any PMO.  If you can’t deliver projects on time and on budget, then why have Project Managers?  The flaw is when people believe that Project Delivery is their ONLY responsibility.  There are many PMO Leaders that focus all their efforts on this single deliverable: “On Time, On Budget, In Scope”.  If that is the mission of your PMO, then I would tell you that you can probably plan on looking for work every 2-4 years.  Why would I say that?  Successful Project Delivery is the bare minimum expectation that any company leader should expect of a PMO.

In other words, it is the Price of Admission to the Game!

Over the last several years, in the PMO development that I have been involved with, we make a considerable and intentional effort in the development of other aspects of the PMO, that support and add value beyond the basics of Project Delivery.  Some of those areas that bring value are:

  1. PMO Governance Facilitation
    1. Development and facilitation of the Governance Body that the PMO is accountable to is a significant value proposition to the executives who make up the Governance Body.
  2. Project Intake Processes
    1. Empowering the PMO Governance Body to reduce the effort of “Black Ops Projects” by developing the appropriate level of oversight, approval, scheduling and engagement on project requests.
  3. Project Delivery Life-Cycle (PDLC)
    1. What are the core processes / methodology components that your team uses to manage a project?  Do you use the same components for all projects?  Do large programs get managed identically to small projects?  There is not a Project Delivery Life-Cycle (PDLC) design that works for every company in every situation, but there is a core group of components that can be used as the foundation of your PDLC.
  4. Benefits Realization
    1. Going beyond the basics of Project Delivery into the discovery that when you delivered your project, did you deliver on the original benefit?  How do you track Benefits Realization?  Do you define the expected benefit for every project in the portfolio and build the right “Mousetrap” needed to catch the data needed to show whether or not the benefit was realized?
  5. Metrics and Reporting
    1. Bring value to the executive level by providing transparent, accurate data to support data-driven decision making by the executive level of your organization.
  6. Portfolio Management
    1. Truly managing all aspects of the full project portfolio to ensure that the organization is working on the right projects with the right resource engagement at all levels.

This is obviously not an all-encompassing list of areas that a PMO can engage in to bring additional value.  It is reflective of the current state of maturity and organizational development of some of the companies that I have engaged with regarding PMO Development.  Each situation is unique and needs to be evaluated as to what areas bring the greatest value the quickest way in the organization that you are working.

What are your thoughts?  Does your PMO focus its attention on delivery?  Have you reached an organizational maturity that goes beyond just delivery into other areas of business value?


Tell me your thoughts in the comments and let’s open a dialog. I would be excited to hear other opinions on this topic.

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Don Clarke

Don Clarke

Co-Founder: Project Management for Today

As a Co-Founder of the website, Don Clarke has over 20  years of experience in the Project Management / Program Management space.  Having worked for a variety of companies over the last 20 years, he brings a strong base of knowledge in the industry.  Establishing or helping redefine multiple PMO's during this time, there is a unique perspective to his approach to developing the value of a Project Management Office (PMO), as well as his approach to leadership development within the organization.  Having been privileged to have multiple career defining mentoring experiences, Don realizes the importance of sharing that experience and giving back to the organizations where he is engaged.


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