Why PMOs fail

Johannesburg, 25 Feb 2008
Read time 4min 20sec

Today's highly competitive business market places directors and project managers under constant pressure to perform. They are charged with reducing costs and stretching the limits of human, technical, and fiscal resources, as well as being expected to deliver high-quality projects on time and within budget.

In order to meet the challenges of doing more with less and the rapidly changing project management environment, many organisations have established project management offices (PMOs) as a way to improve project performance, cut costs, and instil project management disciplines.

So you think a PMO is the solution for your organisation? Think again before you start. Project management history is littered with failed PMOs. Executives are sceptical that a PMO is the right way to go because many PMOS under-performed on their original objectives.

Paul Viviers, managing director of PM Sight and host of the upcoming executive breakfast to be held on 20 March, 'Why do PMOs Fail?' at Microsoft in Bryanston, believes you should know the answers to the following questions before you start.

"Organisations need to ask themselves, 'Do we know what our organisation's strategic goals are? What projects are active today and how many of them link to the strategic objectives of our organisations most strategic assets? What resources are available to complete all current and planned projects, and do you have enough skilled resources?"

PMOs are now facing the axe in many organisations, due to the current economic pressures, because departments which are not functional and positively contributing to the bottom line are either being eliminated or downsized.

However, the slowing economy makes it even more necessary for organisations to have an effective PMO in place. Many projects still need to be undertaken and completed as many are critical to the survival of the organisation. The time has passed for organisations to continually throw money at projects until they are finished.

PM Sight is pleased to have Brian Ferreira, Group IT PMO Manager for SBSA, as our guest speaker at the executive breakfast. He will share his experiences and practical learnings from having established successful PMOs in the past. "Brian has strong views about the practicality of delivery frameworks and PMOs vs the academic world. His current mandate is to ensure the SBSA PMO and IT PM competence is embedded and that the delivery framework is adequately adjusted for legacy and SOA delivery," explains Viviers. "He brings to this session not only practical PMO learnings, but broad insights to how PMOs integrate with the business, back office systems and the delivery community."

According to Gartner, IS organisations that properly implement a PMO will experience half of the project cost and schedule overruns compared with those who do not. In order to succeed in today's economy, PMOs need to have the right tools and processes in place to provide maximum value to their internal customers. PMOs can provide accurate, real-time data back to the business, and they can efficiently manage the business' project initiatives and resources. This ultimately provides the PMO with a critical level of legitimacy and business value.

What is the solution? Many thought project management was the solution. Other experts believe project portfolio management is the answer. Another opinion is that good project management with project portfolio management is the solution... Yet what is the right solution? What can pull it all together? We believe an effectively and competently run PMO is the solution.

Viviers says the following list covers the common problems faced by organisations today:

* Management has limited real-time, visibility into schedule delays, resource constraints and risks.
* Management cannot determine the impacts of adding projects or changing priorities to meeting their strategic objectives.
* Resources don't know what they should work on.
* Resources don't know which tasks are higher priority.
* Resources are stalled, waiting for handoffs.
* Resources are stalled, waiting for key decisions or issues to be resolved.

"Value, value, value is what an effective PMO is expected to deliver. Governance, tools, templates, methodology, training, process and reporting are some of the key resources needed to deliver value. Increasing revenue, profits, efficiencies and competitive advantage are the values PMOs are expected to drive back into the organisation. Ultimately the goal is to positively impact on the organisation's bottom line," concludes Viviers.

Join PM Sight to learn how you can address these questions and how PM Sight helps you identify PMO challenges and projects that are at risk and learn how to take proactive steps to keep them on track. Presented by Paul Viviers, Founder and Managing Director of PM Sight and Brain Ferreira, Group IT PMO Manager for SBSA.

See also