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Pierre Michaels
Pierre
Michaels

6 Signs that your Project Management Office is ready for a PMO Health Check

11.09.2019
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What comes to mind when you think of your Project Management Office (PMO)? If you feel the same as many other companies, maybe the following:

You’re happy that your PMO has been implemented and produces results. The implementation phase has cost you a lot of time and energy and you are pleased to have reached this milestone. On the whole, the Project Management Office serves its purpose, which means that reviewing your PMO approach is not currently at the top of your priority list.

But do you know what? The best time for a PMO health check is when your organization is so busy with project tasks that you don’t seem to have any time at all to review the PMO approach you have adopted. For this reason, we recommend you get a hold on your PMO before your PMO gets a hold on you.

Why Does My PMO Need a Health Check?

Many business leaders shy away from putting their PMO under a magnifying glass. They overlook how pivotal a regular PMO health check is for long-term success. After all, a PMO with vulnerabilities causes damage to a company rather than helping it.

  • Bad PMOs are admin monsters. They exist mainly to manage themselves, and force stakeholders to perform time-consuming, cumbersome and ineffective tasks.
  • Good PMOs help stakeholders to focus, prioritize and structure. They bring real added value to companies and projects.

Establishing a good PMO in your company is a process that is never complete. After all, the PMO needs to evolve with your business in order to meet changing requirements. This process needs an inspection at the right time: the PMO health check, which will help you keep your PMO on track. This way, you can ensure that over time your PMO nucleus develops into a PMO that makes a tangible and sustainable contribution to your company’s success.

The Underestimated Power of Adjustment

Each development process goes through different phases, including transformation in your business. Vision, planning and implementation are all essential stages. However, there is one phase that is severely underestimated and therefore often omitted: the adjustment phase.

The ability to pause and look back is a distinguishing trait of successful entrepreneurs. Instead of continuing in the same way as before or rearranging absolutely everything, they make adjustments more quickly, more effectively and with less vanity than their competitors. Companies that make continuous corrections a habit will continue to develop in an elegant and highly efficient manner.

This is exactly what the PMO health check does for your Project Management Office. But how do you know it’s time for a period of adjustment? Pay attention to the signs. It’s worth questioning your PMO approach if you notice one or more of the following indicators:

1. Lots of Projects Completed, But the Results Are Disappointing

If you observe lots of activity but see few tangible results, the PMO and stakeholders may not have the same clearly defined objectives. A lack of goals is rarely the problem as every actor in your company pursues goals, whether consciously or unconsciously. However, these do not automatically coincide with those of the other stakeholders, the goals of the PMO and the overall business objectives.

When it comes to goals, the PMO has two important tasks:

  • Define clear objectives for projects that meet the SMART criteria and contribute directly to the company’s long-term goals
  • Communicate these goals in a way that stakeholders can understand, endorse and apply to their own sphere

If this does not happen, then you know that your PMO is not optimally positioned. The weakness becomes visible if much is achieved, but the results do not combine to form a large, cohesive whole. The energy of stakeholders is scattered in many directions and is not effectively brought together.

2. You’re Never Quite Sure How Well Your Teams Are Performing

The goals are clear and the project teams are active. However, no one really knows what the status quo is, whether things are going well or whether the team is currently under the cosh. It is likely that the PMO doesn’t use any specific KPIs to measure progress. In short, poor conditions for motivation and effectiveness!

The PMO is responsible for evaluating where a project stands by using precise criteria. It is only in this way that its success can be measured and the need for action made visible.

3. Monitoring and Tracking Eat Up a Lot of Time and Bring no Tangible Added Value

Vulnerabilities in monitoring and tracking are closely related to the previous point. Even the best KPIs are of little use if creating and verifying them becomes a daily task.

A deficient PMO approach quickly leads to stakeholders losing a lot of time tracking progress and becoming irritated by daily admin tasks. You will probably be familiar with situations where information is collected and evaluated in such a way that it can hardly be used as a basis for decision-making during the project. On the other hand, good reporting is lean, automated as much as possible and is a tool that everyone likes to use in daily business.

4. Projects Are Planned, Controlled and Carried Out in Different Ways

The PMO has created guidelines on the meeting culture, project plans and processes, but they are not incorporated into day-to-day business? This lack of compliance among stakeholders is a clear sign that you should subject your PMO to a health check. By doing so, the following points will be analyzed:

  • Do reasonable, helpful and complete guidelines exist?
  • Do stakeholders have sufficient resources to implement them?
  • How long does it take for stakeholders to receive information requested in the PMO?

The PMO can only generate real added value if it is accepted by all parties involved. And that only happens when they recognize its added value. This is where checking the guidelines and communication channels will yield enormous improvements.

5. Your Projects Regularly Lack Capacity, Resources and Know-How

Many projects require specialized knowledge and skills. It is the PMO’s job to anticipate and plan this and then to recruit and train the right employees accordingly.

If your PMO is deficient in this area, your projects will be delayed or you will have to deal with overstrained stakeholders and budget overruns. The underlying cause, however, is not so much the inability to find suitable employees, but rather the structural deficits of the PMO approach.

6. The PMO Is Not Involved in Making Important Decisions

Your PMO generates the greatest added value for the company when it is directly involved in the most important corporate decisions. Here it can perform its cross-company functions in the selection and prioritization of projects.

If this is not the case for you, or only to a limited extent, your PMO does not have sufficient hierarchical weight. A health check examines whether the PMO is integrated into the line organization as a central unit, independent of the individual departments, and shows how it can be optimally implemented.

Who Should Perform the PMO Health Check?

A PMO health check helps to identify weak points and optimization potential for your Project Management Office. Based on this analysis, you can adopt targeted and precise measures. In the ideal case, the health check should be carried out by external experts. This is because they are sufficiently removed from your company’s processes and thinking patterns. It is precisely this fresh look that makes the decisive difference to the long-term success of your Project Management Office.

Have you seen any signs of potential vulnerabilities? Are you ready for an adjustment period? If so, get in touch with our experts for more information about a PMO health check for your company!



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