Jul 14, 2009

PMOs: Great ... and Gone

Posted by Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin in Project Management Office (PMO), Strategy Execution | 2 Comments

I wish this were not true, but ever since 2002 when we began facilitating project management benchmarking groups, I have been meeting PMO directors who brought project management to the attention to senior management, created PMOs or Centers of Excellence, drove PM improvements across organizations, improved project and portfolio performance ... and wound up unemployed.

Of course, the present economic climate puts every area of the organization under the microscope, but it does seem that PMOs are more susceptible to the ax than many other functions. My theory about this is that great project (or program) management is like great editing: invisible. When the management of projects, programs, or portfolios goes smoothly .... nothing dramatic happens. Things get done, decisions get made, money gets made, schedules are met. No problem. No bloopers, no typos.

"Hey," says the CEO. "Everything is going so well. What do we need this PMO for? It's overhead."

The latest cover story in PM Network magazine focuses on just this issue: the crucial requirement for PMOs to show value, and show it often, in order to simply maintain their place in the organization. (The Accident Fund PMO, by the way, has been a finalist and a winner of our PMO of the Year Award in previous years, under the previous director Norm Buckwalter--something that isn't mentioned in the article).

Often, PMOs succumb to a disease that is affecting all areas of organizations: the short-term CEO syndrome. Research by executive search firm Drake Beam Morin notes that when CEO tenure drops, businesses focus on achieving quick and short-term results. Since (as our 2008 study The State of the PMO revealed), it's only mature PMOs that bring business benefits, it's easy to see how short-term thinking can doom PMOs. Unfortunately, this only harms organizations in the long run.

Have a PMO success-to-sadness story? I'm all ears.

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2 Comments on PMOs: Great ... and Gone

A PMO’s PMO - Project Management Office’s Pr says:

[...] it will be revered; but that it could actually lead to its demise (by Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin  at http://pmsolutions.com/blog/uncategorized/pmos-great/ [...]

Posted on July 15, 2009 at 5:04 pm

EPM, Microsoft Project and You » Blog Archiv says:

[...] it will be revered; but that it could actually lead to its demise (by Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin  at http://pmsolutions.com/blog/uncategorized/pmos-great/ [...]

Posted on July 15, 2009 at 5:05 pm

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