PMO maturity has become a prominent focus for organizations that want to transform the way they approach project management (PM), manage operational processes, and enhance overall business growth and development. The key question: Is your project management office (PMO) mature enough to keep pace with the needs of your organization, and the demands of your customers? Here are four key indicators that your PMO maturity might be lagging behind as well as suggestions for getting back on track.
1. There Are No Formal PM Processes in Place
There are several reasons that your organization could have no formal PM processes in place. Perhaps you were once a small business and your PM process hasn’t advanced alongside your growth or maybe you’ve just muddled along waiting for a disaster to push you into adopting a process. Whatever the reason, a lack of formal PM processes is a significant indicator that your PMO maturity is lagging — or perhaps nonexistent. A lack of process becomes a time-waster, a resource waster, and, potentially, a customer loser.
If you’re always struggling to figure out when a deliverable is due, who is assigned to a task, or what resources you have to accomplish a project, you’re costing yourself and your company time and money.
Tip: Start creating structure in your PM processes by identifying your top pain points and working backward.
Are you consistently late on deliverables? Do you overrun your budget? Are you overworking some employees and underworking others? Are contractors fully utilized and working on assignments?
This honest look at where you’re struggling will give you a framework for where to begin establishing a set process. Forrester Research and advisory services recommend a 4-part assessment of your formal project management processes for baselining and improving these processes in the recent report, Assess Your Agile Software Leadership Portfolio Management Maturity.
2. Your PMO Has Not Implemented Project, Program and Portfolio Management Governance
Just as formal processes help an organization achieve PMO maturity, so, too, does standardization in project, program, and portfolio management activities. This governance puts everyone on the same page and leaves very little to chance. Think of it as a chain retailer. No matter which establishment you visit, you know what to expect when you walk through the door — whether or not they accept your preferred credit card if they require you to bring your own bags, how their return policies work, what employee uniforms look like, and so on.
These seemingly small standards are enormous in terms of how much time they save you in your shopping experience. Now think about a time that even one of those standards was skipped and the amount of inconvenience it caused you. The same benefits translate to your organizational efficiency. The researchers at Gartner even predicted that “by 2024, oversight and governance — rather than delivery — will be the main focus of more than 70% of project management offices (PMOs).”
Tip: Assess what you can standardize within your project, program, and portfolio management activities.
As with processes, take a look at your pain points and start exploring where standardization can ease them. For example, can you shift tasks to a PPM application? De-silo your information with centralized reporting?
Next, let’s take a look at another indicator your PMO maturity might be lagging — the lack of a PPM application solution.
3. Formal PM Processes Are in Place, But your PPM application Is Inefficient or Nonexistent
One of the biggest challenges that prevent an organization from achieving true PMO maturity is a reliance on outdated tools for planning, tasking, tracking, and executing your PM strategy. If your PMs are frantically thumbing through stacks of spreadsheets to answer questions during already time-consuming meetings, your PM methodology needs a serious update. Your portfolio management team should be able to focus on your portfolio, not swamped with project details.
The pros at PMI agree process needs to be coupled with a strong technology solution to be successful. In the 2019 Pulse of the Profession report, they cite putting technology front and center, building digital fluency, and reimagining career journeys as the way project managers and project leaders can help their organization get there.
Tip: Look into a reliable PPM solution.
A reliable PPM solution will increase visibility, de-silo data, advance reporting, increase overall efficiency, and help your PMO become a reliable partner in increasing efficiency, customer satisfaction, and business value. While these are huge benefits, don’t just run out and implement the first platform you see. Perform the due diligence discussed above to ensure that the solution fits the specific needs of your business.
4. Solutions Are in Place but They Do Not Meet All Your Requirements
If you have implemented a PPM solution, you’re already working toward PMO maturity. However, if that solution is not addressing needs like project status reporting, resource management, or portfolio analysis, it may not be right for your organizational needs. This typically occurs when a PPM solution is implemented quickly, without a lot of research on the front end. That is why it is so important to examine your pain points and business needs thoroughly before selecting a PPM application.
As Forrester Research explains, “Project portfolio management solutions aren’t just for projects anymore. The solutions are getting more flexible and intuitive with every release. And these solutions contain critical information about the lifeblood of an organization — money, and people. You must use them consistently to get the right data insights.”
Tip: Check-in with your vendor and find out if it is possible to expand on the features and reporting of your existing platform.
If it is not, it is time for a hard look at whether the benefits of keeping the status quo outweigh the pain of shifting to a new solution. It is also worthwhile to chat with other vendors and explore if they have compatible options that can help you make your existing application work better for you.
These four indicators create a great starting point for assessing your PMO maturity. Don’t be discouraged if you discover that one, two, or even all four of these indicators ring true for your organization — they offer a starting point for the transformation you wish to achieve and a road map for how to get there.