One of the challenges that I see organizations struggle with is how their culture and environment fit within a PMO that is established or being implemented.  In this author’s opinion, this is the first mistake.  The culture and environment should not be forced to fit within the PMO, but the PMO should align with the culture and environment of the organization.  So what happens to get this out of alignment?

There are several factors that cause this kind of misalignment:

  • A PMO was implemented initially without taking into account the environment or culture of the organization;
  • As the organization grew and changed, the PMO did not grow and adapt with it;
  • The business and PMO are not working in a collaborative mode;
  • Areas within each area (IT or business) are working in their own silos;
  • Lack of leadership support;
  • Lack of knowledge within the organization to help with the growth;
  • Lack of or inconsistent communication;
  • and the list goes on

So, how can this be avoided?  First, don’t build your organization around a PMO, grow the PMO to match the environment and culture.  Understand maturity; this does not mean overall maturity but where each department is as it relates to different areas of maturity including resource management, risk management and project management to name just a few.  Determine together where the organization wants to grow then start laying down a plan on how to get there.

One of the key areas that is missed is communication; I talk about this when I speak at conferences.  If as a Project Manager one of the core roles is to serve as a communicator, why does that not follow-through to the PMO?  In most instances, the audience is silent when I ask this question.  So, if as project managers there is the expectation to communicate, why is it that for some reason some PMOs don’t?  I cannot answer this, and often neither can the people I ask the question of.  Just because your organization now has a PMO doesn’t mean the communication stops; quite the opposite the communication should increase.

So, what is the answer?  If you try to fit your organization into the PMO…you will lessen the chance of success.  Instead, grow the PMO with the culture and environment as vital inputs into the PMO.  As the organization’s culture and environment change, the PMO needs to be able to grow and adapt with it.  Implementing a PMO does not stop once it is in place, it should continue to grow with the organization, and mature alongside of it and not separate from it.


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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Alyce Reopelle

Alyce Reopelle

Contributing Author

Over 20 years project management experience with a passion for helping organizations grow their PMO, their project managers, and their teams.  My passion has taken me to the pursuit of a Doctor of Education, as I enjoy seeing the proverbial light bulb come on.  I am a believer in continuous growth and improvement, and believe that an organizations culture and environment is what drives the growth of PMOs and all areas, and not the other way around.


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