Aled Laugharne

Management Consultant

  • PMO & Portfolio Management

20 Jul, 2020

How Good Does Your PMO Need To Be?

The efficacy of a PMO can have a direct impact on the pace and outcomes of a programme of work. For example, poorly managed dependencies between workstreams can lead to misaligned plans and expensive resources waiting on others. But how good does a PMO really need to be and how can senior stakeholders be assured that a PMO is benefiting their programme? Chaucer has been conducting research into both the current-state and future-state of PMO and can bring evidenced insight to this question.

Circa 80% of PMOs are seen as critical to the success of a programme and meet key stakeholders’ expectations

Firstly, our recent multi-industry research concludes that the majority of PMOs (circa 80%) are seen as critical to a programme’s objective and either meet or exceed key stakeholder’s expectations, suggesting that, in most cases, PMOs are successful in their function. Additionally, our research shows governance, reporting, and planning being the top three areas in which PMOs add value.

We also applied a maturity lens to our research. The Chaucer PMO maturity framework is intended to be a pragmatic assessment tool for gauging how advanced a PMO is. A higher level of maturity correlates to better outcome achievement, higher stakeholder satisfaction, and increased PMO efficiency.

Fewer than 12% of PMOs were reported as being at or below a Basic level of maturity. More than two thirds were reported as working towards, or at Foundational or Advanced. The remaining 12% are working towards or at an Exemplar level.

78% of the PMO examples reported as being below key stakeholders’ performance expectation were graded below Foundational on the maturity scale. 94% of the examples reported as meeting or exceeding key stakeholders’ expectation were reported at or above the Foundational level. This suggests that PMOs need to be at least Foundational to meet most expectations, i.e. this is how “good” a PMO must be. Intuitively, this also highlights the importance of establishing and improving a PMO quickly to achieve the Foundational level, and again, we can reference the data here that implies governance, reporting, and planning should be the first areas of focus.

Interestingly, 70% of the PMOs referenced in our research had third party involvement at some point in their lifecycle. Whether this is more indicative of the temporary nature of the PMOs referenced or a reflection of the need for third-party assistance is to be clarified. Additionally, why circa 20% of PMOs don’t meet stakeholder expectations or are not seen as critical to a programme’s success is an area we intend to investigate. Early indications point to a failure to address wider people issues and an over-focus on reporting as two key PMO pitfalls. Other notable early insights from our research indicate a potential change in role for the PMO being required in future years. For example, PMO becoming more of an engrained capability at all organisational levels and a “way-of-working” when it comes to change, possibly inferring a competitive advantage through agility during organisational transformations.

Note: Chaucer has provided PMO services to its clients for over 30 years. The research referenced above is based on 60 experiences of PMO from 10 different industries, with circa 80% of data points referenced from within the last 5 years. Our intent is to further research this space to provide an industry standard report that provides both deep expertise and pragmatic advisory to our PMO client base.

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