Project Management OfficeRisk Management

10 PMO Risks and How to Handle Them

“Less whining and more action,” is a pretty great mantra by anyone’s standards. On that note, Harry Hall lays out ten PMO risk response plans that go beyond identification to strategically tackle PMO risks. Not every risk deserves its own risk response plan, but the following PMO scenarios are significant enough to warrant direct action.

PMO Red Flags

  1. No project sponsor or charter
  2. Ignorant of company culture
  3. Ignorant of stakeholder needs and expectations
  4. Placing PMO at the wrong level of organization
  5. Implementing the wrong PMO type
  6. Passive-aggressive stakeholders
  7. Uninspired interaction with stakeholders
  8. Poor PMO leadership
  9. Poor management training
  10. Clashing methodologies

In the absence of direct authority, it may be necessary to pull some strings by convincing a senior executive to choose a project sponsor with whom you can draft a charter. To identify the proper organizational culture, set about interviewing those involved in projects – especially interview stakeholders about preferences and expectations.

If you’re lucky enough to be present at the inception of a PMO, do some fact checking to discover whether it is best suited for the enterprise or the departmental level, or if it is necessary/desirable at all. Additionally study up on the type of PMO to be implemented. Is the organization in need of a more supportive version? Or perhaps it requires one that exhibits more moderate or directive control.

Rope in the influential and disruptive stakeholders early in the PMO’s formation and develop a communication plan that considers their and other stakeholders’ preferences. Each stakeholder should be approached differently in terms of time, place, and style of delivery. Likewise, make sure that stakeholders are up to speed on the divergent development lifecycles: the agile, change-driven cycle versus the waterfall, plan-driven cycle.

Importantly, management staff for the PMO will need very specific skills that align with the needs of the particular organization to which they are being hired. The company should consider developing internal project management certification courses designed to fit with unique strengths and weaknesses of project management staff.

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