It’s no secret, mindset and perspective form the framework for your reality. And it’s no different in PMO leadership. While working with my group coaching students through the modules in my IMPACT Engine 90 Day PMO course, I explained to them that the latest research indicates that there are far too many PMOs operating in the “average” and “failing to meet results” categories, not to mention too many leaders functioning with the mindset that they believe they have no control to change or improve the situation.
Before I take you on the IMPACT mindset journey, it’s helpful to understand our reality. Let’s level set our starting point. Statistically, half of the PMO leaders that read this will be in the category of what I call “thriving” PMO leaders and the other have will be in the “surviving” category. Even if you are thriving, I encourage you to stick with me through this series, as I’m certain you will find some tips and ideas to help you take your PMO even further. And if you are constantly in survival mode? Don’t worry! You are in the right place and I promise you, I will give you the keys necessary to transform your PMO and your mindset so that you can finally thrive. Are you just starting your journey of building a PMO? GREAT!! Stick with me. Let me help you get it right the first time.
Typical PMOs and Average Results
The statistics don’t lie, the average PMO is not delivering IMPACT. Only a third of projects are considered successfully completed on time and on budget (Standish Group’s CHAOS report), and while it’s important to measure a lot more than that, it’s still pretty bad when only a third are considered successful even from a triple constraint perspective! Only 40% of projects meet schedule, budget and quality goals (IBM Change Management Survey of 1,500 executives). A whopping 68% of stakeholders perceive their PMOs to be bureaucratic (Gartner PPM Summit). That is a huge number, and we have got to correct it. Additionally, an astounding 50% of PMOs close within three years (Association for Project Management) and Gartner found that the correlated PMO implementation failure rate is more than 50% (Gartner Project Management) since 2008. Half of PMOs that start will fail.
A colleague of mine, Bill Dow, wrote a book that talks all about starting up, running, and shutting down PMOs. It’s so common that we need to talk about shutting down PMOs just as much as we talk about how to properly start a PMO. Now, I’m not talking about the temporary endeavors that are project or program specific. Those are meant to have a start and end. I’m talking about the ones that are meant to be a sustainable business unit but fail to meet their goals after leaders pour money into the PMO year after year and don’t see a return on their investment.
Imagine (or maybe you don’t have to because this is your reality), PMO leaders are constantly under stress to do more, give more, “be more strategic,” get the results, and often with very little support or the necessary resources to get the job done. Many are frustrated and confused because they think they are doing what they were chartered to do, but the business leaders still aren’t happy. Many of these leaders aren’t sure where their next funding will come from or if they are going to end up on the chopping block during budget season. It’s a high-stress environment that keeps PMO leaders in constant survival mode instead of thriving, growing, and evolving to meet business needs.
Finally, and perhaps one of the most bothersome statistics is from Forrester. They found that 48% of teams reported a positive relationship with PMO. That’s really bad. Honestly, that makes me sad. No wonder the other statistics are so poor. How much time do you and your PMO team spend building strong partnerships and relationships with all stakeholders that engage with the PMO?
Feeling a little bit hopeless? Don’t worry, we’re going to spend a lot of time talking about what this information is telling us and how we need to operate differently and have a completely different focus if we’re going to see high-IMPACT with our PMO. It’s completely doable, even in the most change resistant environments.
I did a little bit more research hoping that I would be able to find a silver lining in all of this or some bright star of opportunity, and I found a little bit of what I was looking for when I looked at the 2017 PMI Pulse of the Profession survey. The PMI Pulse of the Profession survey is given to organizations from all over the world that have PMOs and do project management.
That data is telling us that there is hope. There is an answer. There is a right way. The report explains that strategically aligned PMOs have a much higher success rate than those with low strategic alignment. The percentage of projects that are actually meeting goals is significantly higher and the percentage of projects deemed failures is significantly lower when you have that high alignment to strategy. What we can see from this data is that PMOs are playing a greater role than in previous years compared to many aspects of project management, including this concept of measuring project success (we will talk a lot about shifting the way we measure success for our PMO and projects, so stay tuned).
So, what do we do now?
The data is telling us what we need to know AND what to do about it. We need to become IMPACT-driven leaders and transform our PMOs from average to IMPACT Engines that drive high return on investment. Simple enough. We know the answer, but many still struggle to find their way to high-IMPACT. So, what’s the secret? The secret is that we must start with ourselves by shifting our mindset regarding how we think about these projects, how we think about the PMO, and how we think about the PMO’s role. PMOs must think in terms of outcomes and IMPACTs, create greater throughput across the portfolio, get away from being just a cost and control function, stop focusing on how many templates and steps we can add to process, and start driving higher return on investment for every project, every time. You do that, and you will have no worries about simply surviving.
Shifting the mindset
Over the next 6 weeks we are going to dive deep on exactly what it means to have an IMPACT mindset and how that applies to PMO leaders. Not only are you going to feel confident about taking charge of your own career, but you will have the keys that the thriving PMO leaders are using to make an IMPACT with their PMO.
How do we become IMPACTful leaders with an IMPACT mindset?
Click here to read the next installment in the IMPACT PMO Leader Mindset series: Step 1: I – INSTILL FOCUS.
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