I’ve been managing projects and programs for more than 15 years. I’ve seen a little bit of everything. I’ve also had the joy and the pain of implementing two Project Management Offices (PMOs), one in an Information Technology Department and one Enterprise PMO.
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Through the years, I’ve noted many reasons that PMOs fail or struggle. It’s rarely just one thing; it’s usually a combination of things. Here is a list of causal factors. I hope the list helps you find success.
The clashing of beliefs in traditional and agile life cycles
Functional managers want complete control of the organizational projects that impact them
The tendency of the organization to regress to bad behavior
Embarking on large, complex programs immediately after or during the implementation of the PMO
The unwillingness of senior management to make the investment of time to improve the project culture over the long haul
The PMO lacks an understanding the organization’s problems
Poor definition of the PMO success criteria
The PMO doesn’t understand the organization’s culture
The PMO doesn’t understand the stakeholder’s needs and expectations
Not implementing the right type of PMO/degree of control (e.g., supportive/low control, controlling/moderate control, directive/high control)
Thinking that PMOs can only bring value for mammoth programs
The PMO is bureaucratic
Failure to highlight early successes
The PMO loses wind after the initial gains
The PMO is seen as the process police/box checkers
Too many meetings with too little to show
The PMO lacks an understanding of the organization’s strategic plan and fails to align itself with the strategy
Thinking that what worked at one company will work at another company
Individuals craving the desire for former positions or status before the implementation of the PMO
Expecting huge results in a short period of time
Are you planning to implement a PMO? Take the time to review this list; use it as a checklist in your planning and implementation. If you’ve already implemented a PMO, review the list to see where you might need to make some changes in your approach. I would love to hear about your success and pain points. Best wishes!