Oct 24, 2012

New PMO Capability Model Spurs Lively Discussion at PMI Global Congress

Posted by J. Kent Crawford in Project Management Office (PMO), Project Management Research | 0 Comments

As a PMO, "how do we know we are good?"

Wow! Thanks to all those who participated in my session Sunday at the PMI Global Congress in Vancouver, BC. We held an informal focus group on the topic of measuring PMO capability (or maturity), where I debuted a model our research division has been working on this year. The model, which we are calling a PMO Capability Model, grew out of discussion with leaders of high-performing PMOs (identified in our 2012 State of the PMO Study) and of winners and finalists in the PMO of the Year Award competition. They introduced us to the idea that measuring PMO maturity in “levels” wasn’t realistic. The word level itself implies a value judgment – in that Level 4 is better than Level 3. But our PMO leaders said if a PMO offers the services needed by the organization, it’s just right and “there is no up from there,” as one focus group participant put it.

So, we are proposing to develop a model that sorts PMOs into “classes” instead – and this is what I presented on Sunday and got a rousing discussion going in the group. While there seemed to be general agreement that “levels” was the wrong terminology, what folks were most concerned with was having descriptive guidelines for what PMOs tasked with various missions, whether strategic or tactical, should be doing – as well as best practices from successful examples of PMOs comparable to their own.

As one participant, a PMO leader from The Prudential, put it, the pressing question for PMOs is “How do we KNOW we are good?” Our model is just our latest project to help answer that question. If you’ve followed our books, webinars and training sessions over the past five years, we have increasingly been focusing on measuring performance and value. And at this year’s Congress, I was gratified to hear a theme being expressed that it’s the PMO’s value added to the business that is the key. As the PMO leader from Stryker put it during my session, “There’s lots of opportunity for a PMO to add value, beyond the delivery of a project.” Helping PMO leaders determine where their opportunities lie for added value, and providing a clearinghouse of information about best practices, is what we are striving to do.

If you missed out on the conversation at the Congress, join us here online by sharing your thoughts below.

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