The State of Project Management Report 2017 provides a great opportunity to review some of the data as it always provides fascinating reading and look at some of the PMO lessons learned from 2017.

Firstly it is important to acknowledge that this is the largest published research of its kind in the UK with nearly 400 organisations taking part in the 2017 survey.

The report highlights both the successes achieved by some but also the opportunity for improvements. We are always in danger of spouting data for the sake of it, but let’s focus on the PMO and start with some basics:

  • 85% of organisations involved in projects have a PMO
  • A third of PMOs are less than 2 years old

So PMOs are new, they come and go. They are set up and then maybe don’t add the value anticipated, are closed down, and the cycle goes around again. This is emphasised by two stats that don’t pull their punches:

  • Only 45% of organisations recognise their PMO as a value-add
  • Only 26% tend or totally agree PMO is recognised as a strategic partner

No wonder the state of the PMO is fragile. What are these PMOs missing? How come they don’t add value or get embedded and seen as a key part of project management strategy, helping to deliver success? After all, they should be. Well, the truth might lie here:

  • 28% tend or totally agree PMO has a defined strategy & roadmap
  • 22% tend or totally agree the PMO has a catalogue of services
  • 43% tend or totally agree on roles & responsibilities within the PMO are clearly defined

So it’s time to get our PMO house in order. Let’s be clear about the services we are going to offer to our customer. Yes, I’m using the words “services” and “customer” as the PMO should be providing a valuable service to the organisation.

Once we know what services we are going to offer let’s make sure we have the right skills & horsepower to deliver on those and having clear roles & responsibilities need no justification from me.

We might not launch all these services at once and it makes sense to build these up over time. This sounds like we might need a plan (sense the irony here) and in fact, let’s make this a strategy for our PMO. Surely you have one? Perhaps you are somewhat hindered by your own senior management as only…

43% tend or totally agree they have committed Sponsor

…this could reflect those PMOs on the downward spiral that in another six months’ time might be closed as they are just not seen to add value. Maybe your PMO should consider the two most difficult project management techniques to embed according to the 2017 Report; lessons learned and benefits realisation.

Both of these can definitely sit in the camp of the PMO and if done properly can add real value.

Also bear in mind the 5 most common project management challenges are:

  • Poorly trained Project Managers
  • Attempting to run too many projects
  • Lack of senior management support
  • Poor resource management
  • Poorly trained Project Sponsors

Your PMO can definitely make a difference in all of these challenges and should relish the opportunity. Tackle one or more of these and you are adding value, will gain senior management sponsorship and can then even wow them with your PMO strategy.

Given that 54% of PMOs state they will have more work & responsibilities in the future, yet only 36% state they’ll get more resources, it suggests it’s about time to work smarter.

So come out of the daily trench of PMO activity and look longer term; when looking at the PMO lessons learned from 2017, are you on the right side of these statistics or is it time to step up?