When we look at Project Management Office maturity levels, we often see that PMO leaders face a number of challenges in starting the journey. They want to move to a more mature PMO, offering a more services and providing more value to the business. But getting there isn’t as easy as you might think.
Here are three of the most common challenges for improving PMO maturity and what you can do about them.
Challenge #1: The Organizational Context
The first challenge that PMO teams face is the fact that the PMO doesn’t operate in a vacuum. Technology, organizational governance, people, processes, suppliers, your industry, partners and customers all have a role to play in how the PMO operates. These groups – and probably more – shape the maturity of the organization. As a result, they also shape the context of the PMO’s environment.
Why does this matter to you? It’s important to match your PMO’s offerings to the context you find yourself working in. For example, you may have a very mature and established PMO, but still struggle to get anything done because the organizational maturity isn’t there. Equally, in a very mature organization with strong governance, an immature PMO will be pushed to deliver quickly because the organization has expectations to meet.
PMO maturity has to be looked at in the context of the organization, because so much of what you are trying to deliver is influenced by the environment you work in. Like a fish that grows to the size of the pond, your PMO has to match itself to the organization and fit in seamlessly. When you are planning the implementation of your PMO, this is definitely something to take into account.
Challenge #2: Customer Understanding
Your key customers, or stakeholders, probably have no idea what PMO maturity is and why it matters to you. They wouldn’t understand what Level 3 maturity meant unless you spelled it out to them, and even if you were having that conversation you’d probably find out quickly that they didn’t care!
As long as they are getting what they need from the PMO, most of your stakeholders probably haven’t given much thought to your aspirations for taking the department further. All managers have ideas for how to grow their team and develop their department, and they’ll assume that it’s obvious that you do too. However, not every team has the option of using a tried-and-tested maturity model to frame their growth and measure their progress.
Having said that, other managers in your company will know that they want effective strategic delivery. Most of them will have some idea that projects are the way to get there. They’ll want their projects completed on time and they’ll definitely want all the benefits those projects bring.
A key challenge for PMO managers is joining up those thoughts: PMO maturity can have a huge impact on strategic delivery. The better you are at managing your projects, through supportive governance, standardization and effective monitoring, the more likely it is that you will hit your strategic objectives.
Tell a story of how the PMO can help business leaders deliver on their strategy. It isn’t about hitting levels on the maturity model but more about how you can support them in achieving their goals for their teams and the company overall.
Challenge #3: Improving Maturity
The challenge with improving maturity is that you first need to know what level you are at, and then you need to know where you want to aim for. You need to carry out a PMO Pulse Check to find out where you are at present, and identify areas for improvement. This will give you a clear roadmap for how you can broaden and deepen the services you offer.
Once you know where you are, you can start your journey to improving your maturity. That’s the crux of the third challenge for PMO leaders: What does it take to improve maturity at the PMO level?
The answer depends on a number of things:
- The commitment of your executive management team to improving the current state of affairs
- How much money is available for delivering improvements to the way the PMO works
- How much resource is available
- The capacity of those resources to deliver – do they have the right skills to bring the PMO to the next level, for example (and if not, how are you going to supplement their skills with expert third party resource).
You’ll need to address each of these in relation to how your business works. Perhaps you need to create a business case for more investment. Perhaps you need to influence at the highest levels to gain executive support. Perhaps you need to work on building the skills of your in-house team, with the support of consultancy as required, to deliver your next phase of growth. The solution to addressing these challenges is going to be personal to you and your company.
However, it’s pointless aiming for Level 5 maturity – the highest level of maturity, with all systems fully operationalized and running like a dream – if you are barely on the scale at the moment. You won’t be able to put forward a convincing argument for investment. Your own team will probably feel demotivated with the unrealistic targets you are setting for them and yourself. It’s fine to have lofty goals, but break them down with interim milestones so that you plot out your whole journey.
That starts with looking honestly at where you are and setting yourself some realistic targets. Remember that you don’t have to ever reach Level 5 maturity if it isn’t appropriate for your organization. Aim for what is going to give you the most value and deliver the best result for your business without over-engineering anything.
You can address the challenges of PMO maturity and build a PMO that offers incredible value and support to your business. When you look at where you are and where you want to be, the journey starts to map itself out.
Risk Management Maturity
Maturity models also apply to risk management too. Watch our on-demand webinar on improving the effectiveness and maturity of risk management to find out more.