9 Signals that your PMO needs direction

9 Signals that your PMO needs direction

Insights | 05 March 2013

1. Executives not Engaged with the Project Management Office

If your Project Management Office (PMO) exists in a void with minimal executive support, this substantially increases the chances of failure and chances are your PMO isn’t relevant to your organisation and it isn’t serving it effectively.

2. No Training Plans

Successful project managers aren’t born – they are made. The same can be said for all roles within your organisation. With ongoing market pressures, evolution of best practices and increasing demands to do more with less most staff could use additional or refresher training.

Without structured training plans your PMO may become out-dated which will result in loss of business value, depth of knowledge and experience.

3. No Common Approach

If a common approach is not implemented, how can your organisation know what elements of their PMO need improvement? Without consistency, the PMO cannot learn from experiences. For a PMO to be successful it must have appropriate, repeatable and effective processes in place that are reviewed regularly.

4. Inadequate Reporting To Management

As mentioned in signal 1, executive management support determines the success or failure of projects. However if there is no meaningful reporting mechanism to report project and portfolio status to executive management, then it’s very difficult to show or prove PMO relevance to them. Gain executive support by providing relevant, compelling data and insights.

5. The PMO Doesn’t Handle Key Projects

A key indicator of executive management lacking confidence in the PMO is when key projects are redirected elsewhere within the organisation and are managed by individuals that are not part of the PMO. Whilst it is good practice for an organisation to set up a special temporary PMO for projects that are larger and more complex than anything run before. It is necessary for the PMO to be an integral part of the company’s success.

6. Apathy

Is your team lacking motivation? Are they not interested or engaged in business crucial projects? Does it seem like your team just doesn’t care anymore? Apathy in the workplace is a significant signal that there are underlying issues that need to be addressed immediately by the leadership team. Failure to correct issues early can leave a normally ambitious PMO open to develop other, more alarming and (costly) problems.

7. Under-performance

Each company will encounter the occasional missed deliverable or deadline because in reality no PMO is perfect. However, it is important that PMO leaders identify whether these missed deliverables are a symptom of a much larger internal issue. If lagging performance is becoming noticeable it is imperative to quickly identify the problem by assessing people, process and organisational factors and to take steps necessary to address issues or realign the PMO to the organisations needs.

8. High turnover

Watch for rising resignation numbers. A deluge of transfers and resignations are a clear signal of dissatisfaction within the PMO. Perhaps PMO members may have become disgruntled with lack of growth opportunities, there is a lack of communication, or it isn’t receiving the executive support it requires. Be mindful of PMO staff attitudes as strong performers will often be the first ones to realize something is wrong, but they won’t always be the first to leave.

9. The Blame Game

The blame game is usually a late occurring signal that a PMO needs direction. Usually there will be other signals that the PMO is struggling before the workplace environment deteriorates into a witch-hunt. If your team is preoccupied with redirecting blame rather than sourcing a solution it is a clear indicator that workplace difficulties are pervasive and the PMO would benefit from some guidance.

The use of expert support is an increasingly popular solution for a PMO when it requires strategic direction. This approach can be very effective, as external experts have the broad experience across many PMOs, as well as the background to operate at the appropriate level. This can prove vital regarding re-invigoration of a PMO or establishing a more proactive and flexible strategy.

The PM-Partners group are the trusted service provider to leading and emerging PMOs. Call us on +65 6818 5771 for further information.

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