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The Evolution of The PMO Assessment

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Often, when you’re working in the thick of an IT Project or a busy multi-layered portfolio, it’s hard to identify even glaringly obvious risks.

The Chartered Management Institute found recently that over a third (36%) of managers have experienced project failure in their career but before we rush to beat ourselves up it’s worth remembering that projects rarely exist purely within the four walls of the PMO!

Projects span different sites or cities, and even countries and continent - it is harder to keep these under control and on track. For most project-driven organisations and businesses this is how it is! And that’s why Stoneseed is here to help with our PMO Assessment. 

The Evolution of The PMO Assessment

The PMO Assessment that we offer at Stoneseed hasn’t changed much over the years but the way we deliver our findings to you has recently been refined, added to and improved. By delivering easily actionable suggestions you can make an instant, lasting and measurable difference to the performance of your Project Management Office.

Upon completion of an Assessment, you are given a Project Managers Handbook which you can then use to implement necessary changes, ensure business-driven results, maintain standards and consistency. One client recently compared the Handbook to a Haynes owner's manual and, it’s true, it can be given to all the Project Management staff as a user guide and to new starters and external PMaaS (Project Management as a Service) resources as an onboarding tool.

The handbook is bespoke and private to each customer and for your added security protected by a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) but, for illustrative purposes here’s Top 5 Project Managers Handbook Recommendations to give you an idea of what a PMO Assessment can offer.

1 - WRONG OR TOTAL LACK OF METRICS

With no systematic progress tracking or badly chosen metrics, it’s difficult, if not impossible to measure the value of your PMO (and demonstrate it to the board!). More than ever, ROI (return on investment) is crucial. All departments must show how their contributing value to the company’s bottom line – without metrics you’re sticking a wet finger in the wind!

About three-quarters of teams are still using spreadsheets or manual reporting processes, and while some are really good at this, the majority are leaking value by not nailing down key data points and not having a system that can track and translate project data into insightful and meaningful analysis.

Real-time data, aggregated reports, clear and objective metrics make communicating project status and checking the health of your project easier. Data and metrics make decisions easier to take and their effectiveness easier to measure.

2 - FOCUS ON SUCCESS, FAILING TO LEARN FROM FAILURE 

IT project teams are getting better at celebrating successes! Blow that trumpet! It’s great!

But, some IT projects fail. When a team focusses only on success or failure (a black and white approach) important lessons can be missed.

How often have you heard a football manager say that more lessons are learned in defeat than after a victory - or from the mistakes made by his players rather than the goals that they scored? 

Along the way identifying that an element of a project has failed can lead to ultimate success – but it’s so important to take time to learn the lessons.

There’s a real risk that, by over-emphasising success, you miss the chance to turn a short-term misstep into longer-term service improvements.

3 - MISSED BROADER BUSINESS IMPACT

The Project Management Office is not an island! 

IT projects require buy-in across various departments, outcomes span every part of the business, but all too often the wider business impact has not been identified and measured.

The traditional, more operational role of the PMO has evolved, in most cases, into a wider, more strategic role. For too many, the mindset hasn’t followed the reality of this and decisions are not being taken in the best interest of the business or the wider project portfolio.  

4 – AN UNCLEAR MISSION IS A MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 

There has been an increase in reactive projects over the last few years and markets evolve and businesses evolve with them to keep pace. Often, projects are being rushed into planning and execution without a clear idea of what the business intention is. 

Especially when the order comes from the top of the business, it’s easy to jump feet first rather than take a reflective step back and properly assess the business case and opportunity.

All project members need to be clear on the mission. All stakeholders must be on board. All contributors, internal and external resources, have to be clear on what the project is aiming to accomplish.

Rather than just a dry report, the Project Managers Handbook from Stoneseed can give you clarity of purpose and a clear roadmap and endpoint!

5 – OSTRICH SYNDROME

Taking action, once you have identified somewhere improvements can be made, is easier said than done!

There is always a risk of ruffling feathers. 

The Handbook doesn’t have any organisational baggage, it isn’t mindful of any sensitivities or fear treading on eggshells. The Stoneseed PMO Assessment objectively identifies where you can be doing better and spells it out in plain language.

It’s amazing how much more receptive team members can be when it’s an external source pointing out ineffectiveness and inefficiency and how much easier it can be to hear constructive criticism when it’s not from someone you share a water cooler with!

So that’s five broad areas where Stoneseed clients have found value in engaging with a PMO Assessment – yours will really drill down into your operation. It’s a forensic exercise, it will lay you bare but clients describe the experience as liberating, cathartic and transformational.



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