Research out from analyst firm Gartner last year points to a shift in the business drivers behind PMOs. A few years ago, they report, the main reason for having a PMO was to drive through measures that supported the economic survival of companies. Executives looked to PMOs to manage process improvement, improve standardization and share best practices between teams. While those are still important PMO functions, the focus today is on “growth and ability”. In other words, supporting businesses to take on more work and to perform that work more effectively and with the minimal stressors to business processes.
Whether your PMO is brand new or has been around for a while, there are some common challenges that face your team. These challenges should be on your watch list: it’s easy for a PMO to become an irrelevance or an administration function in an organization if the goals and resources are not actively managed.
Here are 4 global challenges for PMOs of any size and what you can do about them to make sure that your team stays relevant and ready to face whatever the business needs of you.
1. Taking on Additional Tasks
Over time (and sometimes even from Day 1) Project Management Offices find that other tasks fall into their area of responsibility. This often happens when the work has nowhere else to go, but that doesn’t mean the PMO is the right home for it.
You’ll create a mandate for your PMO when it’s set up – a Terms of Reference (Charter or Mandate) for what it is going to do day-to-day and some business goals for it to aim for. Every so often it pays to realign today’s PMO To Do list with the original mandate and work out what the gaps are.
Stay Relevant By: Planning in regular PMO reviews to ensure the work of the PMO accurately reflects the mandate and alignment to organizational goals. Act on the outcome of these reviews by making changes to task responsibilities and stopping work on activities that no longer add value.
2. Lack of Staff and Skills
The Global State of the PMO, a 2015 research study by ESI International, concludes that resource management is the top challenge for PMOs at the moment, both in terms of being able to allocate skilled resources to projects and within the PMO itself.
The Gartner analysis comments that the staffing gaps within the PMO are often met by individuals wearing more than one hat. This is fine up to a point, but longer term all it does is mask the requirement for a different mix of skills. It also makes it difficult to scale up, as that simply puts more pressure on a small group.
Stay Relevant By: Looking at the mix of skills in the PMO and comparing that to what the company needs. Do this regularly to identify requirements for recruitment or training. Then follow through: recruit or train as required, keeping the skills in the team up-to-date.
3. Marketing Your Services
ESI reports that nearly a third of PMOs have had their function or value challenged over the last year. Most of that comes from senior management, and most of it relates to the lack of perceived value. Therefore there’s a key role for PMO managers to play in making sure that the rest of the company knows what contribution the PMO is making.
Stay Relevant By: Ensuring senior managers know what the PMO does and how this links to the strategic goals. Be obvious: communicate how you have saved money or time or improved quality. Don’t be modest!
4. The Rise of Agile
Just under half of the PMO professionals surveyed by ESI report that the lack of skilled resources to work on Agile projects was a concern. Nearly 40% said that they were worried about their own lack of expertise in this area.
Agile projects need a different skillset and different processes. The PMO should be able to support these alongside the more traditional waterfall approaches to managing projects. Having one team responsible for both project management approaches offers you the chance to see how the two align and to share best practices across both.
Stay Relevant By: If your company is investing in Agile, make sure that your PMO stays up-to-date by making a similar investment in training staff and updating processes to suit new ways of working.
The PMO has a wide and varied role to play in your organization but with one goal that is common across all enterprises: to make the business of managing projects, programs and portfolios easier and better. That can only happen if you regularly face up to the challenges of running a PMO and address these with ways to keep your team relevant as the business needs change over time.
If you are interested in creating your own PMO function or have a PMO already that could do with realignment to your current business model, then call us today on (703) 910-2600 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss how Ten Six’s expertise and experience can help.