Project Management Office

Four Steps to Building a Successful PMO


Information Technology projects in many organizations are expected to fail. Consider this for a moment: the projects IT works on are expected to fail in cost, time, or simple abandonment. However, “world-class” organizations identified by Gartner generally have a success rate of ninety percent. This post on PM Hut explains how the difference between a fifty percent success rate and a ninety percent success rate is a successful PMO – and how you can build a successful PMO using the following four steps:

  • Establish a vision
  • Consider the culture
  • Measure what matters
  • Take the long view

It seems easy when put so starkly, but project managers and CIOs know there is much more to each step listed. The first step-establishing a vision-can indeed be a laborious and confusing process for anyone. The blog post indicates how the vision must “articulate what will be different about your organization after you’ve launched the PMO.” Furthermore, there must be quantifiable indicators included to know if those changes have or are beginning to occur.

The last step is just as important: an organization can’t put a PMO in place and then assume that it will simply work without any further interaction or optimization. This is why taking the “long view” is so important to continued success. Understanding the rate of change from a PMO to the organization and how the PMO expects that change to continue help achieve continued support and growth:

A CIO/PMI study showed that project success rates doubled in the second year of a PMO’s existence and continued to climb for several more years. So, use the answer to why you established a PMO to help you target the improvements with the greatest leverage across critical measures of project performance. Then, set reasonable expectations about the rate of change and magnitude of improvement.
Make sure you account for the impact your chosen PMO structure will have on the rate of change. A scorecard demonstrating the target value for critical metrics across multiple quarters can be a good communication tool.

As the PMO grows, it’s important to “declare victories” to keep momentum up for both your team and stakeholders. People need to experience value in order to believe it, and by taking the time to indicate when a milestone has been reached you can assure that everyone involved will likewise recognize why the PMO is a positive factor in the business.

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