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  • Writer's pictureKathy Shonaiya

Is Your PMO Fit for Purpose or Fatally Flawed? PMO Assessment Saves the Day!

Like an engine, your Project Management Office (PMO) drives enterprise delivery by optimizing performance, providing oversight, and mitigating issues. But over time, even high-powered engines sputter and seize up without proper care. As executives know, warning lights signaling emerging problems are easy to overlook when heads stay perpetually down chasing day-to-day priorities.


However, avoiding the pit in your stomach realization that the PMO engine failed you comes at a significant cost - blown budgets, disgruntled customers, and regulatory run-ins. We’ve all seen enterprises waste millions not addressing dysfunctional PMOs until it’s too late.


The key is periodic PMO Assessment to detect early symptoms of deterioration in your PMO. Identifying the dividing line between healthy and debilitating dysfunction as a doctor diagnosing diseases is critical. In this post targeted at business leaders and project professionals alike, we will explore PMO health vital signs and warning signals of illness and comparisons to model PMOs firing on all cylinders. Consider this your guidebook for evaluating if your PMO requires life support interventions or continues operating as a high-performance strategic asset.


Characteristics of Thriving PMOs

Let’s start with the ideal vision - what traits characterize a robust, value-generating PMO at peak effectiveness? High achievers centralize governance and provide enabling resources to streamline delivery while connecting strategy to on-the-ground execution. Core pillars include:

  • Strategic Business Alignment – Ample executive interactions keep initiatives focused on driving key corporate objectives and KPIs through project selection and oversight.

  • Standardized Delivery – Governance processes, project templates, and training resources reduce variability, enabling smooth handoffs across teams and functions.

  • Centralized Tools + Visibility - Real-time dashboards into project vitals from budgets to risks offer leadership increased line of sight into health metrics enterprise-wide.

  • Continuous Improvement – Capturing lessons learned and analytics that measure success and maturation models guide uplift to optimize project outcomes over time progressively.

  • Stakeholder Relationships - Strong partnerships foster collaboration between project managers, line groups, and senior leadership for open dialog.


With harmonizing elements, PMOs act as orchestrators across people, processes, and technologies - conduits through which strategy flows into day-to-day activities. The result is a high-functioning delivery engine powering portfolio optimization and scalable governance.


Hallmark Warnings of a Failing PMO

However, even high-performance PMO engines eventually flood, stall, or throw belts if leaders ignore concerning signs. As with our bodies, early symptoms typically precede chronic afflictions. Here are five cardinal signs of imminent PMO failure:


⛔️ Strategic Misalignment Creeps – Governance meetings focus solely on cost, resource needs, or HR issues without tying back to business goals.

⛔️Inconsistent Tools/Processes Take Hold – teams utilize their metrics, documents, or methodologies rather than centralized standards. Chaos proliferates.

⛔️ Limited Visibility Persists– centralized reporting lags in real-time with stale or incomplete views into budgets, issues, risks, and problems.

⛔️Stakeholder Avoidance Becomes Norm – project teams and line groups shun the PMO, avoiding engagement. They perceive bureaucratic overhead versus collaborative value.

⛔️Complacency Replaces Improvement – PMOs miss maturity targets without the impetus to strengthen skills, resources, or staff for better delivery outcomes.


These red flags indicate deterioration – the PMO lacks strategic relevance, utility for teams, or business backing to achieve its mission. Unaddressed, sustained underperformance results until massive dysfunction requires painful rehabilitation.


Contrasting Healthy and Frail PMOs

Seeing contrasts clarifies distinctions between robust or declining PMO engines. Consider two examples:


The struggling PMO at Company X interviews project managers annually to capture subjective success and improvement perspectives. Though data is analyzed, recommendations to update tools, templates, or planning processes stall indefinitely from disinterest. Afterthought check-in meetings with senior management need more leadership visibility into actual portfolio health. Over time, teams increasingly abandon the homegrown tracking documents and generic progress metrics the PMO requests, prizing agility over governance.


Meanwhile, the mature PMO at Corporation Y tracks detailed budget utilization, resource allocation, and risk metrics across portfolios on real-time PowerBI dashboards. Automated project tracking informs resource forecasting and capacity models that teams rely upon for strategic planning initiatives. Regular steering committee reviews of maturity benchmarking fuel consistent enhancements to value-added PMO services around improved planning templates, specialized training, and program management assessments. These build a broad commitment to standardized methodologies.

Company Y’s data-backed PMO oversight and specialized services foster enterprise adoption, while Company X’s informal, stagnant governance breeds indifference and disregard.


Getting Emergency Repairs or a Clean Bill of Health

While no PMO remains completely immune to sinking effectiveness, prudent monitoring spots derailment signals early when mid-course corrections get engines humming again. But absent appropriate diagnostics, even high-end machinery expires from negligence.


Use the frameworks provided here to inspect the current state of your PMO with unflinching objectivity. Proactively unearth its strengths or uncover nagging issues across governance alignment, adoption, support, and outcomes. Once you transparently acknowledge hard truths, targeted replenishments can redeem struggling PMOs or further optimize those operating smoothly. The choice comes down to decisive action now or painful cleanup later.


So be a proactive physician - heal thy PMO through checkups, uncovering what fuels top performance or provokes failure. Robust governance engines stand the test of time. Ensure yours stays the course.

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