What's the point of a PMO?

Point of a PMO is to deliver strategic valueSo, you've probably heard the one about the broken pencil? 

....nah, there's no point.

Maybe that's really a joke about PMOs. You've seen the stats, right? 

  • 50% of PMOs close within 3 years (APM)
  • Since 2008, PMO implementation failure rate is over 50% (Gartner Project Manager 2014)
  • 68% of stakeholders perceive the PMO as bureaucratic     (2013 Gartner PPM Summit)

I've written before on ways to turn this around, but there's one underlying challenge: many PMO leaders themselves don't understand the point of the PMO. If the PMO leader doesn't know what the PMO is for, how can the senior executives value it?

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Is your PMO having an IMPACT?

Impact Summit PMOIn my role, I talk to a lot of frustrated PMO leaders. Most of them want the PMO to have an impact on their organizations, but feel like IMpact is IMpossible.

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PMOs are revolting!

There is a revolution under way: the 4th Industrial Revolution.

And the PMO is, in some ways, the most crucial player in making this revolution happen. The PMO is like Napoleon. Or the guillotine. The revolution just wouldn't have played out without them.

Change is nothing new and it's a cliché to say that change is accelerating, but it really is. It's not just accelerating, but it's accelerating on a whole lot of different fronts all at once. Technologies like artificial intelligence, internet of things, robotics, big data and - well, just throw in your favourite collection of buzz-words - these technologies are driving change at a faster pace than ever before. And this accelerated change has a name; the 4th Industrial Revolution.

And the PMO is a key player in this revolution, but are you ready?

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PMOs are like insects...

exec sponsorship insectsPMOs are like insects...

"Okay, Stuart, you've lost it this time...!"

But wait - hear me out. 

Between certain species of ants and aphids, something magical happens. They cooperate to help each other thrive - they have a symbiotic relationship. The aphids "mine" plants for sugar which they "feed" to the ants. The ants, for their part, protect the aphids from predators, even destroying Ladybird (Ladybug if you don't speak the Queen's English) eggs to prevent those predators from being born. 

PMOs and Executives are just like that though I'm not saying which is which. 

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PMOs Should Stop Prioritizing Demand!

PMO WisdomWell, I just got off the phone with a consultant friend of mine, Roberto Camanho. He is grey-haired and wise. He is the Gandalf to my Mr Baggins.

And he took the rather controversial position that PMOs should NOT be in the business of prioritizing demand.

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Time for PMOs to Upgrade? Hell yes!

PMO Superhero

Have you ever seen any superhero sequel movie without an upgrade? Of course not! Superheroes come back with new gear to combat threats and to SAVE THE WORLD.

This is what PMOs need - an upgrade to fight PROJECT FAILURE. Like any good super villain, project failure is hard to eradicate (in fact, may never be totally vanquished). And like any good super villain, project failure can be fatal, not just to projects, but also to careers.

PMI’s recent survey is absolutely clear – too much money is being wasted on poor project performance. No, don’t roll your eyes. We’ve all heard this message so often it’s kind of become background noise, but think about it. If your company decided to build a new $200m headquarters building then changed its mind and had to lay off 10% of the workforce because of the wasted money, you’d be furious, right?

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Air Guitar and Your Maturity Level

air guitar.pngNext time you're in front of a large group of people, try this game. Ask people to put up their hands if the are "above average drivers". I pretty much guarantee that 70-90% of hands will go up. Now that's just not credible (unless you're at an advanced drivers convention!).

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Why executives lose their jobs?

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I have no alternative; you’re fired!

Projects that fail, especially significant projects that promise the moon but that end up costing the earth, can end your career in a heartbeat. Of course projects fail for all kinds of reasons, but one very common cause is picking the wrong project/vendor/partners/solution in the first place.

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PMOs Save the World!

Pm4 .png

On July 13th, 1985, a group of musicians including David Bowie, Queen and The Who came together and changed the world. It was called Live Aid and was attended by around 170,000 people in the UK and the USA and was watched by one-and-a-half billion people around the world. Live Aid raised something like £150m (that's around $200m at today's exchange rate) for famine relief in Africa.

Now, come on! We in the PM community are not going to let a bunch of over-paid poppinjays with bad haircuts have all the glory, are we?

PMs, PMOs, consultants, vendors... we can all make a difference, we can change the world, and here's how.

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PMO Champions vs. Underperformers

pmos are the champions.png

In their massive rock anthem, We Are The Champions, the band Queen boldly declare, “No time for losers, ‘cos we are the champions…”

Perhaps this goes some way to explaining why 72% of PMOs are being called into question by their executives; perhaps they too have “No time for losers 

And today, we’re going to figure out where you sit. Are you a Champion or an Underperformer? Or, most likely, somewhere in between?

 

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Focus and the 72% of PMOs at risk?

 

Lessons for PMOs
 

Data suggests that 72% of PMOs are being called into question by senior executives. Clearly these executives don’t perceive value in what the PMO is doing. Now, the project portfolio exists to deliver business-value-oriented projects and programs, so this brings us to some really important questions:

  • Why isn't every single project aligned with strategy? (Aligned projects are 57% more likely to deliver business value)
  • Why do I never have enough resources for my projects?
  • Why is “the business” frustrated with the project delivery organization?
  • Why do so many project teams get frustrated with their business “customers”?
  • Why is there a picture of Bono at the top of this blog?

 These are the important and urgent questions we will answer in today's blog.

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57% increase in project success: here's the trick

Hienz Project Management.png

This blog is all about a very simple statistic from the PMI. It's a startling statistic, yet when you think about it it makes perfect sense.

Projects are 57% more likely to achieve their business goals if they are aligned with corporate strategy.

Fifty…... Seven…… wow!

 

According to the same PMI report strategically aligned projects are 50% more likely to be completed on time and 45% more likely to be completed within budget. This infographic has all the numbers in one place for you to share.

So no matter how you define success, strategic alignment clearly has a huge impact. This blog is going to look at why this is and what you can do to improve your own success rates.

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My Project Just Failed... or Did It?

Success - PMO blogs .png

Search for ‘project failure statistics’ and you’ll find lots of reports talking about failure rates of anywhere between 40% and 75%. It’s also easy to find training providers and consultants who tout the one guaranteed way to project success. 

But just what do we mean by project failure or success? Before we can really start to talk about improving success rates, surely we need to understand this. I host a community of PMO professionals in Melbourne – we call this community P3C – and we recently discussed just this point.

This blog looks at what we learned.

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Benefits Realization is easier than you think

Project benefit realizationLast week was the Project Challenge event in London and the were some really good talks. Among them was a talk by David Walton of Bestoutcome on benefits realization. This is an area I am often asked about when supporting clients in their portfolio prioritization and selection process so I thought I'd share...

Tracking through to benefits doesn't have to be hard, but it does take focus and the discipline to never give up, a bit like The Terminator - the good one in T2, of course; we don't want any nasty robo-PMOs running around gunning down project sponsors... even if you do sometimes feel like it!

Very few organizations track projects all the way through to benefit and David gave a simple framework to help you get there, but he missed one of the most important steps out; prioritization.

So, let me share with you my interpretation of the talk, but I'll add what I think is missing.

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Oh no! Here comes the CFO…

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We’ve all had the feeling. You step into a lift (elevator for those of you who don’t speak the Queen’s English) and there’s the CFO. Or the CEO. There’s nowhere to hide. She turns to you and says something along the lines;

“I’m heading to a budget review and the project portfolio is under pressure. How do we KNOW we’re investing in the right things?”

Well, for most PMOs there is no good answer.

An honest answer would typically be; “Well, we had a meeting with our stakeholders and picked a bunch of projects that don’t really seem all that-well aligned with any strategic direction. Project selection was really based on politics and salesmanship and I reckon there are a few lemons and pet projects in there!”

Not an ideal answer.

Well, now there is a way you can quantify and justify the portfolio selection and it’s validated through academic research.

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