I’m assuming that most of you are like I am…you’ve been part of organizations that had good PMO’s, bad PMO’s and no PMO’s.  What set the good ones apart from others or at least seemed to make a difference?  Or if yours was bad – what made it so?  Why, in your mind, was your organization not served well by the presence of or creation of a Project Management Office?  And if you do not have a PMO, do you think your organization would be well served by one?  Why….what is lacking that you think a PMO would fill?

That’s a handful of questions and I’d like to hear feedback from anyone willing to offer information and answers – either anonymously or not.

Let’s assume you’re in the category of individuals who think your organization is not being served well by your existing Project Management Office.  I’d like to hear your thoughts and reasons, but first I’m going to take a stab and what I believe are five reasons that the PMO sometimes does not meet the org’s needs.

  • Executive Management is not Included in the PMO Process
  • Training Plans are Non-Existent
  • Common Templates and Processes do not Exist
  • Poor Upward Project Reporting
  • Major Projects Circumvent the Process

Let’s look at each of these in a little more depth…

Executive Management not Included in the PMO Process

This one means exactly what it says.  If your Project Management Office acts independently and either doesn’t report detailed project status up to executive management or if executive management doesn’t care what your PMO is doing, then your PMO isn’t relevant to your organization and it isn’t serving it effectively.  That may be the PMO’s fault and it may not be.  It’s sad if you have a PMO that your CEO does not find important enough to follow, view project status or have any interaction with.  Either your PMO Director is not promoting your PMO well, proper and meaningful reporting is not in place to make it relevant, or your CEO is clueless. 

Training Plans are Non-Existent

Most project managers could use additional or refresher training.  Technology changes, better processes evolve, and – in the case of IT shops – application development processes can change.  To stay current, to stay cutting edge – there needs to be training plans in place for the members of the PMO.  Otherwise, even if your PMO is important to your organization now, it may become irrelevant in the future as more and more PMO members become disgruntled with lack of growth opportunities and move on to other positions and companies.

Common Templates and Processes do not Exist

If your PMO is flying by the seat of it’s pants, then it’s not functional and it’s not likely to last.  It must have repeatedly process to be relevant and for the company to have confidence in it’s effectiveness.  Otherwise, no one will no for sure why one project was successful and another was not.  With no consistency your organization will not know what to tweak or fix in order to make things right or better next time.  Lessons learned will mean nothing if there is no consistent process and no consistent, meaningful templates in place.

Poor Upward Project Reporting

This one takes us back to the first point…the involvement of executive management.  Exec management may not care or get involved and that’s bad…but if there’s no meaningful mechanism by which to report project portfolio status (dashboards, etc.) to executive management, then it’s very difficult to show or prove PMO relevance to them.  You can show them how the PMO is making a difference if you can’t show them what that difference is.

Major Projects Circumvent the Process

This one may be the biggest tell tale sign that your PMO is not serving the organization well.  If smaller and less meaningful projects are being run through the PMO and managed by project managers…then that’s great.  But if they major projects go elsewhere within the organization and are managed by individuals that are not part of the PMO, then it’s obvious that executive management lacks the confidence in the PMO that is necessary to make it an integral part of the company’s success. 

These are just five signs…if I think of more I’ll post them.  If you have some to share please either post them here or email me at brad@bradegeland.com or both.