Addressing Project Management Office Challenges

ESI released their Global State of the PMO report, the report makes interesting reading around the services provided by a Project Management Office (PMO), whether a PMO sits are department or corporate level and the overall value and benefit of a PMO.

One area of the report which stood out for the CBO team was the section regarding how PMO value or benefits are challenged. The key areas of the PMO that the report highlighted as being challenged are:

  • Lack of effective PMO leadership
  • Lack of executive / stakeholder support for the PMO
  • Lack of skilled resources within the PMO
  • Lack of programme / project maturity in the organisation
  • Lack of recognition of value of the PMO to the organisation
  • Failure to design the PMO around the organisation’s specific needs
  • Seen as too bureaucratic
  • Not aligned / contributing to the successful execution of the organisation’s strategy

At CBO we take a structured approach to our PMO implementation work, which is outlined below.

  1. Discovery
  2. Design
  3. Implementation
  4. Operational Handover

The first step on the path to ensuring the value of a PMO is realised within an organisation is to secure true Board-level support and active sponsorship for the PMO.  

Undertaking an effective Discovery phase is critical to understand not only corporate processes and governance arrangements but also the organisation’s objectives, strategies, its staff, their skills and the corporate culture prior to moving ahead with any detailed design work. 

All of the PMO challenges and risks highlighted in in the ESI Global State of the PMO Report  can be addressed or mitigated through a fit for purpose Discovery phase. The Discovery phase is designed to engage all levels of the organisation, confirming the short, medium and long term organisation objectives and providing clear and agreed direction for the design and future operating model of the PMO.

The Discovery phase should deliver clear and SMART objectives for the future of the PMO. Without this discovery work the Design phase will often build on assumptions that haven’t been tested, objectives that haven’t been agreed or gaps that haven’t been identified.

Project Management Offices are constantly under pressure to demonstrate value. The most effective way to outline and demonstrate value is to ensure the design and implementation meets business requirements right from the outset.


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