8 ways to find out if you’re a PMO dinosaur

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The programme management (PMO) community need to face the uncomfortable truth—for many, nothing much has changed since the 90s and failure rates are at an all-time high.

By Jools Barrow-Read, Portfolio & Programme Management (PMO) Consultant, RedWizard

If your PMO is struggling, it’s time to ask why and face up to the possibility you might be a PMO dinosaur!

In last week’s article, PMO in the modern world: ‘The missing piece’, we presented our own methodology—approaching PMO through the lens of four key touchpoints that we know are critical to success—people, agility, communication and insight.

This week, we’re covering what makes a ‘mature’ PMO, and have included eight key indicators of a prehistoric PMO that you should never ignore.

So, what does a ‘mature’ PMO look like?

A ‘mature’ PMO has the ability to tailor its services with speed and agility, meeting the ever-changing needs of an organization. It’s well connected and invests time in building deep relationships that matter. A mature PMO is based on what really matters—VALUE.

You don’t have to be a strategic PMO to be mature

Many organizations feel a ‘mature’ PMO is a strategic one. This couldn’t be further from the truth. PMOs come in all shapes and sizes—from operational and tactical to strategic in nature, or sometimes a mix of all three! There’s no “one size fits all”, and each approach can be mature, or immature.

 A ‘mature’ PMO does whatever the business needs it to do.

Put simply, a ‘mature’ PMO works to deliver what the business actually needs by digging deep, asking the right questions, listening and developing long-lasting relationships–built on TRUST. It continually strives to provide sophisticated services that add real VALUE to the business—no matter if it’s operational, tactical or strategic.

There is no standard or template for determining the type of PMO PPM leaders should set up. The best type of PMO is one that is tailored to support organizational needs at a level the organization can embrace and from which it can realize benefit. –Gartner

If your organization has moved on but your PMO is standing still, it’s time to start asking those difficult questions, starting with… Am I a PMO dinosaur?”

Eight tell-tale signs you’re a PMO dinosaur

1. Project managers don’t come to you for guidance or support

One of the major functions of a PMO is to support and guide the project management community. That means they should consider you a go-to resource for help, support and guidance. If they aren’t coming to you it could be that either they don’t know you are there or that they don’t value the services you provide.

2. Key stakeholders or managers don’t show up for meetings

You’ve communicated the agenda and scheduled the meeting, but you’re constantly faced with excuses (or worse still, they don’t respond at all).  Beware, it could be a signal that they don’t feel it’s worth their time.

3. You’ve a great business case to automate project data visualization and introduce metrics but can’t gather support

Today, managing a full pipeline requires prerequisite data points and a system that can track project data and provide insights into the health of each initiative.  Without a systematic approach to tracking progress, it’s difficult to measure the value of the PMO to the wider business and demonstrate how it’s contributing value to the company’s bottom line.

4. Managers sidestep the process, or worse still; whole projects are delivered outside PMO remit

We’ve all had scenarios where a rogue project manager refuses to follow the process, but when this becomes the norm rather than the exception, it could be a sign that the process is no longer fit-for-purpose. Is your PMO too focused on the WHAT rather than the WHY?

5. PMO funding is cut

Many functions are asked to trim their operating expenditure or streamline their investment plans. If your PMO is asked to take more than its fair share of budget cuts, this could be a sign that the work of the department is not considered as important as the work of other teams.

6. You’re not invited to key meetings

A healthy PMO is active, visible, connected and well-respected. If you’re not being invited to attend meetings that are well within your area of expertise, or where you could feasibly add value, then you should question why that is.

7. You’re not in the loop when it comes to strategy changes

Whether your PMO is operational, tactical or strategic in nature or a hybrid of all three – you should be in the loop regarding strategy changes. Your PMO can be thrown into turmoil if you don’t have your ear to business strategy and how it is evolving.

8. The C-suite don’t know what’s happening

Project reporting is in the remit of most PMOs. Whether that’s being able to provide company-wide portfolio-level dashboards, or project-by-project status reports, one of the fundamental roles of the PMO is to keep a watching brief of the progress of the work.

It’s a sign of concern when senior management do not appear to know what this progress is. They are either not reading your reports or they are not getting the information that they are interested in.

Want a FREE consultation?

We’re delighted to offer all our readers a FREE 30-minute telephone consultation. We’ll assess how mature your PMO is and if it’s operating at a high level—delivering real value across your organization.

Bring us on board!

PMO is tough, and you need a strong and diverse community of cross-industry experts who are passionate about transforming the PMO space. And that, we’re pleased to say, is exactly what we do. We care about building meaningful relationships with our customers. It’s through their partnership and trust that we’ve been able to extend our services, providing long-lasting transformation solutions that deliver real value and improve the bottom line.

We’re RedWizard, the missing piece, and we’re confident we can perfect your PMO. If you’d like to book a FREE 30-minute telephone consultation just send us an email, it’s as simple as that!

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