What is the PMO data telling us?
Let’s start with that. What is it that some of this data was telling me? The bottom line is that far too many PMOs are operating in this kind of average or failing to meet results category. When you look at survey data across industries, so when people were asking at this conference: Are PMOs really the answer to a business leader’s problems or an organization’s problems? It’s a valid question. What does the PMO do for an organization? What is the PMO and answer for and what are they answering? What is the question that we are even asking when we talk about putting a PMO in place and what should the PMO be doing in the first place? When I put together my IMPACT engine PMO training course that helps PMO leaders get from zero or starting from scratch to a high IMPACT PMO in 90 days or use the program to uplevel their PMO, I did a ton of research and I pulled together all the sources that I could find across different categories. The trends were kind of the same, whether it was project management or the PMO.
For example, a Standish Group chaos report said only a third of projects are considered successfully completed on time and on budget. You’ll learn from me over the coming weeks and episodes that I believe there is so much more to defining success than “on time and on budget.” We have to go way beyond the triple constraint and EVM. We have to at least be able to get them on time and on budget. We’ll talk a lot about going beyond “on time and on budget” and really making an IMPACT, and really achieving value well beyond the triple constraint. Come on guys, we got to at least be able to get the triple constraint right first. An IBM change management survey of 1,500 executives said only 40% of projects meet schedule, budget, and quality goals. That’s triple constraint all day long, and it was saying that we aren’t even getting our projects completed according to the goals that we’ve established in the first place. By the way, those that were surveyed, the executives, those are our true stakeholders. Those are the people that we should be talking to about what a successful project looks like. If the executive perspective is we ain’t cutting it, then that’s something we should be paying attention to. I also looked at a Gartner PPM summit survey and it said 68% of stakeholders perceive their PMOs to be bureaucratic.
Now, that’s a pretty big number. And I’m telling you, if people are saying that your PMOs bureaucratic, you aren’t solving business problems. Those who have to engage with you need to feel like the services you’re providing and the value you’re contributing is helping them as an enabler to project throughput, to IMPACT realization, to return on investment. So if they’re saying you’re bureaucratic, then what you’re hearing is you are throwing way too much of the templates, tools, process language at me and not enough of helping me get it done. You’re not delivering where the PMO needs to be delivering. That’s what they’re thinking. And that’s what we’ve got to consider when we look at how the PMO can make an IMPACT in our organization. But hang in there, don’t worry about it if you’ve been called bureaucratic, it’s okay. We will definitely unpack the layers here. In fact, in the next six weeks, we are going to dive into all about helping you to shift your mindset and shift your way of thinking to become a high IMPACT PMO leader. So hang tight, we got your back.
Take a minute to imagine this scenario, or maybe you don’t even really need to imagine the scenario because you’re living this reality every day. Imagine as a PMO leader, you are constantly under stress to do more, to give more, to be more strategic, to get the results, and to make an instant IMPACT. Everything’s got to be done yesterday. You don’t have a lot of time to prove your value and worth and so you find yourself spending your time convincing or begging or trying to help people see how the PMO is going to make an IMPACT. On top of that, you’re not given a whole lot of support or the necessary resources you believe you need to get the job done. That’s the scenario that so many PMO leaders face every single day and a lot of times, the worst part is they’re frustrated and confused. They think they’re doing all the things they’re supposed to be doing because they read a book, or because they went to a course, or because they read something online. They were told this is what a PMO is supposed to do, and so they’re really busy doing that stuff and the business leaders still aren’t happy.
Many of these PMO leaders live in a constant state of not being sure where their funding is gonna come from or if they’re even going to be around next budget cycle. Is their PMO going to be on the chopping block next time? They’re making a decision as to which group gets funded. They’re not even sure. Now, that is a really high-stress environment that keeps PMO leaders in this constant survival mode instead of thriving and growing and evolving to meet business needs. That’s where I want to take you in the upcoming weeks. It’s incredibly frustrating when you believe you’re doing the right things, the things that you were designed to do as a PMO and your business leaders are frustrated. If any of that does sound familiar to you, don’t worry about it. I’ve got your back. We are going to be all over it. If it doesn’t sound familiar to you, thank goodness, I’m glad to hear it. I’m curious about your thoughts on this next statistic.
Forester did a survey and found only 40% of teams reported a positive relationship with the PMO. Only 40%, so that means 60% of teams that have to interact with a PMO see it as a chore, see it as a negative experience because they don’t have a positive relationship or maybe no relationship at all with the PMO. I mean of course, your PMO is not going to be successfully implemented or gain that critical support or the engagement or be seen as a driving force to help an organization delivers strategy if that relationship is not there. Think about it. This applies to every organization and every relationship. If people don’t have that positive relationship with the PMO, then, of course, the statistics are going to be terrible because the PMO must have that positive relationship just to get done. All the things have got to get done in many organizations with very little authority or ability to drive the change they really want to drive. That authority will come and does come once you’ve built the credibility and you’ve solved business problems and that is a huge part of all of this.
The common thread I see running through a lot of these statistics is the PMO was not providing a service that the organization, business leaders, or teams that had to interact with it found valuable. That’s it. It’s that straight forward. Over the coming weeks, we’ll talk about how we need to think differently in the IMPACT PMO leader mindset series. Then we will dig into each one of these challenges, the pain points you might be experiencing, and talk about how you can do things differently to get a quick result of much greater engagement, support relationships and making the IMPACT that your PMO is meant to make. To do this, we’re all going to have to forget a little bit of what we’ve been taught. There is a lot of data out there, a lot of books, a lot of resources, a lot of people online, a lot of courses, and a lot of articles all telling you all of the “shoulds” you should do with your PMO and how important it is to start with tools and process. We’re going to have to break some of our bad habits and unlearn some things that we’ve been told in order to get to that business focus direction that ensures sustainability positioning the PMO to thrive in any organization.