Mar 21, 2012

2012 PMO Research Study: Interesting Answers, Intriguing New Questions

Posted by Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

If you did not see it, our The State of the PMO 2012 research report was released March 6. The summary report can be downloaded here.

Like any research study, The State of the PMO is designed around questions. Some of the questions we had in mind when we developed the survey included:

  • Do companies have PMOs? For how long?
  • What’s their service span?
  • What functions are performed by PMOs?
  • How large are PMO staffs? How experienced?
  • Do PMOs provide training? If so, what types of training? And how much?
  • What challenges face PMOs?
  • What value does a PMO add?
  • What are organizations' priorities for the coming year?

The results answer some of these questions resoundingly. For example, we learned that PMOs continue to proliferate: with each study, a higher percentage of firms have one in place. New to this study, though, was a large pool of smaller businesses (revenues < $100 million) implementing PMOs.

We also saw that there are some pervasive challenges, particularly in the area of resource management, which has been and continues to be one of the top areas of difficulty for PMOs.

With a larger than ever pool of responses (over 500 PMO leaders participated) the findings carry significant weight. However, a large influx of smaller companies, with younger PMOs, may also have made the results harder to interpret. So, for the past week, I've been doing a little follow-up qualitative research, interviewing some of the participants in the survey by phone, delving a little deeper into the numbers. Here were some findings from those interviews that surprised me.

What downturn? Each of the dozen PMO leaders I interviewed said that their sponsoring organization was in good shape despite the economy. The general sense was of strong companies not only continuing to grow - primarily via merger and acquisitions - but poised for a major leap forward. Not only that, but none of the PMOs had experienced loss of staff or funding for economic reasons. Most of them, indeed, had added personnel. Which leads to the next finding ...

What unemployment? The main issue facing my interviewees was the difficulty of finding experienced staff, not at the entry level, but at the senior PM, Program Manager, and senior business analyst level.

These two findings somewhat inform what we learned from the statistical side of the research, in that all but one of the interviewees came from very mature PMOs of several years' standing - a quarter of them were in place for over 10 years. We had surmised that the large pool of newer, smaller PMOs somewhat affected the trending, and the interviews bear this out.

Read the research and have thoughts or questions about it? Please comment or email. We're always happy to discuss the ins and outs of the numbers.

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    1 Comment on 2012 PMO Research Study: Interesting Answers, Intriguing New Questions

    Genobeba says:

    Hello again Jean,I do like your post.  Following up from my response to your last post on the PMO and in light of the “nuts” cenmomt …The Lean principle of “Standard Work” is seen in how we execute on delivering value to the business … how value flows.  We optimize our standard work through our retrospectives and our Kaizen events.  The critical aspect of this is the people doing the work get to improve the work.  Management facilitates to ensure we actually practice Kaizen and then follows up to enact the ideas and sustain the changes, but it is the people that suggest and execute to make the improvements (this to me is a major connection between Lean and Agile … it is about the people doing the work). Standard work allows us to measure where we are and where we want to be … and it only stays “standard” until we improve it … then it becomes the new standard (waterfall execution to Agile execution to …..)“Going to the Gemba” is about management and our fellow co-laborers going to the “factory floor” to SEE … to live and experience reality in order to improve reality.  One must walk the path and listen in order to understand how to make real and lasting improvements. This is a much better way of introducing changes instead of the back office or ivory tower approach.  So going to the Gemba is practiced during Kaizen … and yes it is a disciplined approach that helps to drive out a culture of continuous improvement.  I have been involved in many Kaizen events and it is always very fun to hear cenmomts from people participating in their first Kaizen event of moving from skepticism to excitement … excitement because their ideas were listened to and put into action … and they get to put them into action!Finally, to help re-tool the PMO,  I would add a 9th point (or a sub point for 6) … Visualize and manage flow through Value Stream Mapping (VSM).  A VSM allows us to understand the flow of “value asked” to “value received” and guides our Kaizen events … think of it as our roadmap of our portfolio for continuous improvement.  It allows us to see and to ask “why” … why is that queue so big … why are we waiting so long at this point … is the output of that process step delivering any value?.  In a way, a “kanban” board (agile team scrum board) is a sub-VSM of a larger VSM that helps us see the flow of value (work requests, stories, minimal marketable features) and helps us manage our queues in order to optimize them to minimize waste.Phillip

    Posted on April 23, 2012 at 8:02 am

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