Project Management Office

Advice from the Field: What Makes a Successful PMO?

Despite all of the potential a project management office (PMO) may be able to deliver, they have the tendency to fail. What distinguishes a successful PMO implementation done by a great PMO leader? In a post for PM Hut, Michelle Greer elaborates on some factors that differentiate the great PMO leaders from those that are sub-par.

Three Factors for PMO Success

  1. Having small wins
  2. Use the pull vs. push approach.
  3. Make the processes and tools valuable.

It is easy to become fixated on the final, big goal that is the completion of the project, but there are smaller “wins” along the way that should be acknowledged. Oftentimes PMOs are viewed as a hindrance to the organization, only creating more work. By illustrating a few wins, it keeps everyone motivated to see the good PMOs can bring. Try to find the elements that can be quickly deployed and work slowly and steadily. Take one step at a time; it is not a race.

No one likes to be pushed into something, even something that may be immensely beneficial to them. Push management is fast and furious, and these managers tell people what to do and how. This leads to fast progress, but leaves little room for discussion in the group. Pull management is a slower approach, but far more sustainable. Everyone in the team will be given the time to develop, and eventually everyone will actively contribute to the team in a meaningful manner. Different projects warrant different approaches, so evaluate and execute accordingly!

It is great to have processes and tools that are valuable to the leaders, but they are not the ones who are using them every day. It is the team themselves that should be able to voice their opinions and suggest ways to make the processes work more effectively for them. Try to keep processes simple and manageable.

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