How to successfully outsource your PMO with positive risk-taking

Share this:

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

The use of a project management office (PMO) as a service is growing. So why are so many businesses afraid to outsource their PMO, even if it’s failing!? It’s time to get to the root of the problem—RISK.

People take risks all the time. A simple example is crossing a busy road without traffic lights; if you’re not careful, you may be hit by a car. But… by taking stock of the traffic and calculating the time required, you get to the other side safely.

So, how can you apply the same positive risk-taking principles to your PMO?

Take stock and calculate

To make the best PMO decisions for your business, it’s important to take stock and calculate. Research, learn the facts, get advice from an internal senior PMO specialist, or an external consultant. There’s no ‘right’ way to do it, and there will always be some missing information, but gaining more knowledge will help to ensure you make the right decisions for your business.

“Outsourcing is growing across all functions and is set to increase at an annual rate of 4.42% between 2018 and 2022.”—UK Government Trends Report 2019

Change the conversation

If you’ve been watching the PMO space for as long as I have—and believe me, that’s a very long time—you may have noticed a pattern of fear around outsourcing. And for many, the conversation still hasn’t changed. It sounds a bit like this…

An external PMO partner:

  • Will be too expensive
  • Will take too long to get up to speed
  • Won’t fit in with our company culture
  • Won’t be able to build meaningful relationships with key stakeholders
  • Will have a negative effect on our people
  • Won’t be in it for the long run
  • Will be difficult to trust

Just because you think something, doesn’t make it true.

Sure, I get it. All the points above are valid. And unfortunately, some businesses have had these issues. But… some haven’t! Every business is unique, what works for one, might not work for another. It’s also true that not all PMO partners are created equal!

Let’s take a look at what the right external PMO partner can bring to the table…

  • Will deliver services on a fixed price or milestone-based pricing
  • Will work to agreed Service Level Agreements (SLAs), with penalties in place for missed metrics
  • Will help you foster more support for your vision internally
  • Will take ownership of outcomes
  • Will be trustworthy, open and transparent.
  • Will feel as passionately about making your PMO a success as you do
  • Has a strong and successful partnership model of augmented services

And a PMO that goes above and beyond, will also focus on four key touchpoints that are critical for success…

Will build internal knowledge of PMO best practice Will explore available communication channels to ensure the right level of visibility for your PMO Has subject matter expertise and a proven approach Will deliver a flexible PMO solution that can scale up or down with relative ease
Offers education, resources and training to help you build internal capabilities. Will monitor adoption to new PMO processes and provide change management support Will have a key external industry perspective, with a lens into the latest thinking Has tested tools ready to deploy to get things up and running fast
Will be customer-focused, effectively engaging sponsors and business stakeholders Will ensure communications are relevant, engaging and actionable Will deliver insight, not information Will work to reduce complexity and increase visibility
Will work to immerse themselves in your company culture and embed themselves into your team Will communicate challenges with openness and honesty, taking a solution-driven approach Will help you implement methods to monitor and report success Will free up more time for you and your team–so you can focus on business core competencies and objectives

For a detailed breakdown on the good vs bad risks of PMO outsourcing, read our article: PMO outsourcing: The 12 most common concerns and how positive risk-taking can help

Find the perfect PMO partner

Partner with a PMO service that is open, transparent, trustworthy, in it for the long run and can easily fit in with your company culture, and you’ve almost nailed it!


Before you commit to a long-lasting PMO partnership, you need to dig, and dig deep. Ask the right questions—and listen carefully to the answers.

The perfect PMO partner will help you to take stock and calculate good risk vs bad risk. They’ll be able to identify the best-fit model for your business, and answer questions around procurement optimisation, which functions to outsource, which roles to retain, and they’ll be able to measure success along the way.

They’ll also be customer-centric and able to offer you exactly the type of PMO service you need. For example, you may not want to outsource your entire solution—perhaps all you need is to outsource the parts you’re unable to meet internally.

Overall, a great PMO will be able to provide the missing piece, or pieces, you need for success—whether that’s people, processes, standards, definitions, toolkit, communications, data analytics or change management support.

What are the most important questions you should ask a PMO service? Read our article to find out:PMO outsourcing: The 5 most important questions you should ask a PMO service BEFORE partnering.

Emotions trump logic

At our very core, we’re still primal. Even though we live our lives attempting to operate on logic. Evolutionary psychology suggests that we’ll never be able to fully suppress our emotions. And by the sounds of it, we’re hard-wired to zoom in on the negatives—to help us avoid loss and feel more confident.

”Our challenges may be different from hunter-gatherers’, but our hardwiring is not.” —Nigel Nicholson, Harvard Business Review

So, how can you challenge this way of thinking? By asking yourself more questions such as, Am I playing it too safe? Am I being too negative? Is being indecisive impacting my business? Am I unwilling to step outside my comfort zone?

In a nutshell

Risk is necessary for growth and if you want to be successful, it’s a must. We’re all hard-wired to avoid loss which means, it’s important to constantly question and challenge our thinking.

The reality is that the risk of something not working out is often not nearly as high as we estimate and the odds of it working out well, are often far better. Forbes

Outsourcing your PMO may be the best thing for your business. The only way to be sure is to change the conversation. Start looking at the positive risks, ask the right questions, and understand the facts before building a PMO partnership. And remember…

The biggest risk is not taking any risk. Mark Zuckerberg, chairman, CEO, and co-founder of Facebook

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

For insights, expert advice, and general PMO chatter, follow us!

Follow us :

and join in change conversations in our Champions of Change Facebook Group:

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Facebook-group-logo-1.png


Are you ready for the revolution?