What does your PMO do? The correct answer (and maybe not the first) is to add value.

PMOs spend more time justifying their existence than most departments.

We asked a number of questions on this topic as part of The State of Project Management Annual Survey 2017. This is the largest annual non-salary survey on project management in the UK, undertaken by Wellingtone with the APM (Association for Project Management) PMO SIG.

The headline is that 46% of respondents said, yes, the PMO is recognised as a value add business partner, which means an awful lot said no (38%) or didn’t know (16%). Not a great start.

The picture builds further:

  • 39% said their PMO does not have consistent and positive sponsorship
  • 26% said their PMO does not have a strategy
  • 54% does not track the value of their PMO

OK, hopefully this doesn’t paint a bleak picture, but instead gives you food for thought.

Yes, your PMO does need to have a strategy and yes you should measure value.

Both will hopefully help to increase the likelihood of positive sponsorship and then most importantly increase the chance of being recognised as a value add business partner.

Let’s get down into the roots of this. What should your PMO be doing on a day-to-day basis? Well, we asked that question and the top 3 answers are:

  • Project status reporting
  • Maintaining the list of project (portfolio)
  • Maintaining the PM methodology & templates

Should a PMO be doing these things? Of course it should, but these may be perceived as adding limited value.

This is the concern. We might spend much of our time badgering PMs for status reports and nagging them to fill out a PID (Project Initiation Document). Not exactly a great relationship and a black cloud descends on the PMO.

We need to demonstrate that a PMO adds value and not just hassles Project Managers.

So let’s look further down the list of 16 activities given in The State of Project Management Annual Survey 2017. The bottom 3 answers were:

  • Facilitating priority scoring of proposed projects
  • Mentoring & training PMs
  • Facilitating post project benefit tracking

Now these sound like we are enabling more informed decision making, improving the chances of project success and assessing the true success of projects.

Not every PMO has the ability to undertake training and mentoring but goodness me these are solid value add items.

Only 16% of PMOs track benefits and only a ¼ undertake the other activities.

Your mission, should you chose to accept it, is to review the 16 activities undertaken by a PMO, start from the bottom of the list and see which ones you are/should be doing.

This might even give you some targets, which sounds like the foundation for a PMO strategy and if you start measuring benefits we could be cooking with gas.