Another 12 months has passed and it’s time to take stock of what your PMO has achieved in the last year. An end of year report is a common deliverable for all teams, and the PMO is no exception.
In this article, we’ll look at what you should include in your PMO end of year report to highlight your successes and set your team up for continued delivery into the following year.
Before You Start
Before you start writing an end of year report for your PMO, think about what you are doing it for. Who is going to receive it? What are they going to use it for?
You may think it’s worth doing for your own personal benefit as a PMO leader, and for your team. An end of year report provides a snapshot in time of achievements over a 12-month period, and it can be a useful document to look back on in years to come. It can also be helpful for staff appraisals and evaluations, and for documenting the value of the PMO.
As you’ll be looking back on this document in 12 months time, think about how much detail you need to include to remember how you did the calculations and worked out what to include. If it helps, make a version for publication and sharing with your colleagues, and a version for yourself that includes more notes and explanation about how you came to the figures you did. This will be incredibly helpful when you try to repeat the exercise next year, and it ensures your future documents can be truly comparable to this one. Plus, it will save you a lot of time!
You’ll also need to gather all the relevant information before you start. You’ll need access to your project management reporting software and dashboards, lessons learned databases and management reports. Ideally, all of this should be available within your enterprise project management tools, because the more you can automate, the easier it will be to prepare the report.
As with all reports, it’s helpful to have an executive summary at the beginning. Write the report first, then pull out the key points and include them in a paragraph to go at the start.
The headlines should include:
- Percent of projects meeting their target completion date/late/early
- Percent of projects coming in on budget/overspent/under spent
- Percent of projects achieving the expected benefits/failing to achieve the expected benefits
If you don’t do benefits tracking through your PMO, include whatever measures you feel are appropriate to comment on the value the projects have achieved for the business.
This will be the main body of the report. Include a summary of:
- Projects completed during the year
- Projects started during the year
- Projects cancelled during the year (and add a note to say why)
- Projects in flight at the time of writing, which will continue into the following year.
Summarize the numbers of projects in a short table, which can be copied into the executive summary. Then go into as much detail as you think you need. You could break the projects down by department, for example, to show the breadth of coverage. You could show the projects split by strategic alignment to particular corporate goals, or to programs of work.
Tip: Use classifications and categories that your business is already familiar with. This isn’t the time to design a new way of categorizing projects!
The ‘Projects Completed’ section should also include details about what was delivered from those projects. Note down whether the projects achieved their objectives and to what extent. This can give you an interesting view of trends. Are all projects hitting all of their objectives? If not, what common themes, if any, can you spot? Document what you find.
In this section you could also include:
- Summary of budget spent in total by all projects, and then broken down by your categories e.g. by sponsoring department
- Summary of person hours spent on projects, and then again, broken down however makes sense for your report
- Key portfolio-level issues faced by projects over the year, what impact these had on projects and how they were resolved. Try to keep this to the top three issues, otherwise the report will end up very long.
If you can compare performance back to a previous year, then do so. If you don’t yet have the data for a year-by-year comparison, don’t worry. You will build it up over time and include the comparison in your report next year.
Your project teams should be capturing lessons learned after every project, but these are often tactical and highly specific to the project. If you have uncovered broader lessons learned, it’s helpful to included them in your report. You increase the visibility of best practices and therefore influence the likelihood of those best practices being used again.
Here are some example lessons learned that would be worth elevating into your end of year report:
- Business cases are not produced early enough to allow for full investigations before the project needs to start
- Staffing in the Sales team has been tight this year, resulting in several missed deadlines due to lack of project resource
- Three IT outages highlighted the need to invest in infrastructure across all business units: this is being picked up in a project next year.
These are only examples to prompt your thinking. Take a look at those lessons learned logs and see what portfolio-level lessons are worth calling out as the key takeaways from the year.
Your PMO probably does more than simply track status of projects. You may have mentored project managers, implemented a new project management software system like Primavera, increase delivery capacity or designed a training program for executive leadership. PMOs have diverse roles to play in their organizations, and their responsibilities track beyond monthly project progress reporting.
Use this opportunity to record what you did above and beyond supporting the successful delivery of projects. Add a short section in your report, with some bullet points highlighting your additional contributions to the business.
Early Thoughts for Next Year
This is an optional section, but depending on your audience and the rationale for writing your report, you might find it helpful to include a section on the direction the PMO will be taking in the year to come. Perhaps the report highlighted some areas where your team needs project management training, or where the business needs further support. For example, you might have identified that completed projects typically finish late due to poor estimating, so your plans for next year would want to include better support for project teams during the estimating phase, and perhaps additional tools or training.
Your PMO report is something you can share with the senior leadership team in your organization. It quickly shows people the breadth and scale of project work within the business – which might be quite an eye-opener for them!