PM-Partners research unearthed a staggering statistic in 2013: Nearly 40% of PMOs couldn’t define their purpose.
The impact of this lack of clarity was significant. The same survey found only 9% of PMOs felt they were adding “substantial strategic value and influence.”
Surely things are better all these years later? In some ways, definitely.
Research from the Project Management Institute conducted in 2017 found a new breed of PMO – the enterprise-wide project management office (EPMO). This is a PMO operating strategically across the enterprise and is simply more successful. EPMOs reported 38 percent more projects are “meeting original goals and business intent,” with 33 percent fewer failed projects.
Yet, the strategic landscape of PMOs still remains uneven.
Interim results from our 2018 Transformation and PMO Survey uncovered real pressures. Here are the pain points identified by fellow professionals:
- Digital disruption
- Agility at scale
- Cost pressures
- Pace of change
Tackling such fundamental business problems will be impossible without a concise, definitive purpose for your PMO. Think of your PMO as a “north star” that allows the company to understand why your office exists, the strategic value it brings to the business and how PMO success is defined. An official charter is a great first step to defining purpose.
The charter is the purpose and objective of your PMO. Ensure it’s endorsed by a senior sponsor and communicated out to the wider business. Buy-in is crucial. As the PMI states, “The success of the PMO is derived exclusively from the success of its customers.” The more detail you can give around how the PMO serves the business will go a long way in establishing credibility.
Furthermore, here are three items that should be in every PMO charter (and practice):
- Definition of excellence. If the leaders of the PMO can’t articulate what excellence in project management looks like, who will? Defining what “great” looks like – whether that’s in overall project management discipline, project delivery or governance – can spark a powerful conversation. Also consider how PMO-sponsored learning and development will be shared throughout the organisation.
- Clearly articulated KPIs. PMOs are not immune from the need to demonstrate (and reiterate) business value. We know a PMO can drive outsized results, but does the C-suite? The rank and file? It’s all about defining those success metrics upfront.
- Bold statements of accountability. Purpose-driven PMOs must share a clear sense of ownership. Accountability can range from cost overruns to missed deadlines, this will vary across different industries and contexts.
Finally, if you are starting a PMO from scratch, consider taking some time to document where the need for a PMO has come from. What is the overarching narrative that will explain, “Why this?” and “Why now?” Whether that learning came from great successes or humbling failures, a compelling rationale for existence will hold any office, team or effort in good stead.
In all, an aligned and strategic PMO is one with purpose, and the purposeful PMO is what we believe will deliver real business value in 2018 and for years to come.
Does your PMO have a purpose? Is that purpose or value proposition widely understood and shared? Let us know in the comments.