The PMO that delivers

Remember when projects were about delivering on time, on scope and on budget? And when PMOs were about process, compliance and governance? That model didn’t work. Organizations spent huge sums of money on projects that they deemed successful in terms of the triple constraint, but that failed to improve the business in any material way.
This caused frustration with project management and PMOs and eventually led to the evolution of projects. Now they’re more often designed to enable a business to achieve its goals and objectives—to deliver outcomes, not just outputs. That’s been an important step and a catalyst for organizations to deliver better value in less time, and with more consistency.
But what about those PMOs? They haven’t evolved nearly as much. Many are still focused on the mechanical aspects of project delivery that do very little, if anything, to ensure that the business is generating a return on their project investments. Too many PMOs stress the importance of governance and oversight; they spend time consolidating reporting, championing the role of process and structure, and criticizing project managers instead of supporting them.
Perhaps worse is what PMOs don’t do. Many refuse to acknowledge that Agile is a legitimate approach; they see no role for themselves in guiding the business through portfolio planning, capacity and capability modeling, or risk distribution. And they don’t connect their roles with the need to improve the overall value delivered by the project portfolio. Over the last twenty years, countless surveys have shown that around 50% of PMOs fail and are closed within about three years. And that statistic isn’t improving—because PMOs aren’t improving.

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