Myth 1: “The majority of PMOs fail due to lack of sponsorship.”
Is lack of sponsorship a key issue to PMOs? No doubt! Is this the reason why PMOs fail? Not exactly! The upper management’s lack of support is more of a consequence rather than a cause – a major symptom of the PMO’s inability to meet its stakeholders’ expectations, especially the upper management.
The first step to overcome this challenge is to understand that nothing is more important for a PMO than its ability to generate perceived value for its stakeholders. “Being good” is not enough, “looking good” is also necessary.
A PMO that does not have its value perceived and recognized by its stakeholders will, sooner or later, fail. Remember, therefore, that the main focus should always be to meet the needs of those who will “judge” the PMO’s work. This is the best way to secure the support of stakeholders, who may have different levels of relevance in this trial.
The PMO VALUE RING methodology is focused in generating value to PMO stakeholders, providing tools to collect and meet their expectations
Myth 2: “The first step is to choose the ideal type of PMO for the organization.”
Surely this is the most widespread myth about PMOs. Analyzing the main books published in the last decade on the subject, it is easy to see that all authors, without exception, are committed to establishing “types” of PMOs, proposing each his own classification model. The literature abounds in PMO types such as strategic, advisory, directive, support, excellence centers, among others. Each of these types supposedly gathers the ideal functions that should be performed by the PMO. These types should be used as a source of inspiration for the creation of PMOs, and not some sort of “cake recipe.”
In practice, your PMO type is not a starting point, but a potential consequence of your stakeholders’ expectations and needs. Therefore, it is possible that the ideal PMO for your organization is a mix of various suggested methods – or maybe none of them – once the main focus is to offer functions which meet stakeholders’ needs, regardless of the name the PMO may have.
Thus, the ideal PMO is able to meet the needs and expectations of its stakeholders, because only then the PMO will be able to generate effective value. Instead of establishing a pre-set type as the objective, the ability to adapt and create your own kind is what will really deliver the expected benefits, regardless of the name that the resulting configuration may have.
The PMO VALUE RING methodology provides tools to identify which functions should be provided by the PMO based on a database with the experience of PMO leaders
Myth 3: “The success of the projects is always the greatest proof of the success of the PMO.”
There are no doubts that the projects’ success is a major factor for a PMO. However, that is not always the best way to demonstrate its value.
Each of the functions that the PMO provides to its stakeholders should be specifically evaluated. Some PMO functions may have a strong influence on the project’s performance, such as supporting project planning.
These functions should be evaluated on many aspects, but the project’s performance is an important factor for us to measure the effective contribution of the PMO.
On the other hand, some functions have a low ability to generate impact on project successes, such as providing reports to upper management. In this case, any causal relationship between what the PMO does and the results observed in the projects is almost non-existent. This way, it is necessary to establish other types of performance indicators for the PMO, such as compliance with report deadlines, quality levels, and the board’s perceptions about its usefulness for executive decision making.
The PMO VALUE RING methodology provides detailed world-class performance indicators for each PMO function, based on a database with the experience of PMO leaders around the world
Myth 4: “The competencies of a PMO professional are the same found in a project manager.”
By providing the function of managing projects, the PMO should make the professionals who are assigned to this function have the skills of a project manager, after all, this is exactly the function they are playing.
In addition to that, we should be mindful that a PMO can provide plenty of other functions, such as providing reports, training, portfolio management support, mentoring, benefit management, among others.
In other words, identifying which are the necessary competencies for each PMO function is a must. In some instances, competencies might even be the same as those of a project manager, but with different relevancies and intensities.
In order for the PMO to generate value perception for the organization and its stakeholders, the competency factor has extreme importance. Allocating professionals to determined functions without them having the required competences will, as a result, make the expected results to be not fully reached.
The PMO VALUE RING methodology provides tools to assess PMO members’ competencies (360° feedback), identify the best resource allocation, and suggests development plans to improve team competencies.
Myth 5: “Mature PMOs are directly involved with strategy and portfolio management.”
This myth propagates the idea that PMOs should evolve in the sense of becoming increasingly strategic. This way, PMOs with an operational focus would have a low maturity, while PMOs with a strategic focus would have high maturity. However, maturity is not related to what it does (strategic or operational functions), but how well it does each of its functions.
To be operational, tactical or strategic is not a sign of maturity, but rather the result of aligning the benefit expectations of stakeholders. The PMO can provide strategic functions with a very low level of sophistication, which will generate less value. Still it will continue to be strategic, but not mature.
In addition, a PMO that offers essentially strategic functions, may at any time, move to have an operational approach, which has no relation with the idea of retrogression, but with expectation realignment.
That is, the PMO should first focus to define which functions will be able to meet the needs and benefit expectations of stakeholders, whether strategic, tactical or operational. Then the PMO should look for maturity, evolving in the way it provides each function, which in turn will increase the chances of generating the expected results.
We, therefore, conclude that the PMO will evolve independently in each of the three approaches (operational, tactical and strategic), without a sense of “evolution relationship” between them.
The PMO VALUE RING methodology provides a tool to assess the maturity of the PMO, and plan its evolution, based on recommendations from a database with the experience of PMO leaders
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