Straight Talk on Project Management

How PMO can save you

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The IT Project value vampires and how your PMO can save you from them

A recent story on the Cost of Living caught my eye, both as a mum trying to make ends meet and as a Project Management Office (PMO) evangelist.

The story, you may have seen it, was about ‘vampire devices’ that silently cost you money while on standby. It struck me that IT Projects can fall victim to value vampires too, robbing organisations of the return on investment they deserve.

Vampire Devices   

You could save an average of £147 per year at home by switching off electrical devices when not in use, rather than keeping them on in Standby mode. These so called ‘vampire devices’ are draining our collective bank accounts to the tune of £2.2 billion, according to a new study by British Gas.

I’ll share the worst offending vampire devices at the end of this post, we’re all trying to save money where we can, after all.

First though, as I say, it did get me thinking about the vampires that may be sucking value out of our IT Projects, how to deal with them – and benefit from a greater return on investment.

IT Project Value Vampires  

I started by asking colleagues, friends, and clients to name the Project Vampires that had sunk their teeth into projects they’d been involved with, it’s not an exhaustive list but it makes interesting reading.

12 IT Project Value Vampires

1 – Scope creep
2 – Lack of alignment between project and the organisational strategy of the company
3 – Poor metrics
4 – Weak or ineffective governance
5 – Inefficient resource allocation
6 – Lack of resources
7 – Poor communication
8 – Unrealistic budgets
9 – Ill-conceived time scales
10 – Unclear business case or objectives
11 – Unworkable expectations
12 – Lack of transparency and access to crucial documents

It was very interesting to me, that the list was almost identical to one that you might have expected to read before the pandemic. Post lockdown, as the ‘new normal’ became ‘just normal’, and organisations had less bandwidth for error and there was rallying call of ‘build back better’ and heartfelt commitments to applying more stringent and effective governance to IT Projects. This offers the prospect of a more hopeful future.  

Increasingly lean ROIs and slim margins for mistakes and miscalculations necessitated projects had to be better managed, waste and value leakage be better mitigated, and resources be more thoughtfully allocated. And … this was the case for a while, but then life kind of gets in the way and old habits die hard!    

Perhaps it’s human nature. To return to the vampire devices in your home, if you learn on a Monday that leaving your telly on stand-by costs £24.61 per year, you may switch it off at the mains on Tuesday, and maybe even Wednesday but chances are that, by the weekend, you will have slipped back into the habit of pushing the stand-by button on the remote. Old habits! It could be that the same has happened with promises of a “new era” of more focused and stream-lined project management – life gets in the way of good intentions.

Of course, the fact that projects are failing post pandemic for the same reasons that they always failed does come with one huge advantage – the solution that has always worked is as effective (if not more). That solution? The Project Management Office (PMO).


I feel that the rise of the PMO is something I’ve written about before, and they are becoming more and more vital to businesses and organisations, big and small. In 2000, less than half (47%) of organisations even had a PMO, fast forward twenty years, in 2020, almost 9 out of ten (89%) say they have one and half (50%) now have more than one.

When it comes to those Project Vampires, the strategic role of your PMO and EPMO (Enterprise Project Management Office) is crucial. Take a look at the list – between them the PMO/EPMO are responsible for aligning project with business strategy; ensuring governance, transparency, and accountability; managing allocation of talent and resources; identifying and mitigating risk; identifying and driving benefits realisation, etc, etc.

The first point here, aligning business strategy and projects, has always been important, the Project Management Institute (PMI) reports that 38% more projects meet goals and business case where organisations align their PMO to business strategy, and a third (33%) fewer projects fail.

It’s that last point where the real post pandemic gold is for ROI though. The greatest PMOs are identifying all the expected benefits of a project and they are ensuring that they are delivered after the project is ‘signed off and delivered into service’.

Till now, the PMO historically could be the difference between success and failure – the PMO of today can be the difference between success and stellar-success, turning good into great.

In other words, if the measure of success for a project used to be a neat triangle of scope, time and cost, then benefits realisation is increasingly the magic, missing jigsaw piece that makes it a square deal! Your project managers are busy getting things right, your PMO is laser focused on getting the right things for your business.

The strategic role of the PMO and EPMO is vital to delivering business value.

Despite the crucial nature of the role of a PMO, we often hear of push back and even cynicism from organisations. Firstly, the PMO is sometimes seen as just an administrative function – how can an administrative function add meaningful value?

Secondly, the PMO can also become invisible and, like turning off those electrical devices when not in use, you only really notice the accumulated value rewards – you might celebrate saving £25 a year on your electricity bill but not acknowledge that it’s down to switching the TV off every night for that whole year. The same thing happens when an IT project has been delivered on time, within budget and closely aligned to business case, the PMO rarely gets the credit it deserves for the day-by-day disciplines under its direction, that made this happen.

 Thirdly, the PMO can also be insufficiently visible to the wider programme or business and only identified as a value generating function during, for instance, the mobilisation phase of a programme – the PMO’s expertise is there for all to see when they’re establishing the structure and governance that will keep the project true but as days pass, and the project stays true it’s easy to forget why! I suppose, what I’m saying is that all of us contributing PMO value have a responsibility to blow our trumpets a little more.

Stoneseed’s PMO

At the heart of every successful project team lies a Project Management Office (PMO), ensuring well defined processes and governance, planning, forecasting, project resourcing, the foundations for success. Providing that vital link between your business strategy and project delivery.

Stoneseed’s PMO is the corner stone of every service available to you through our Project Management as a Service (PMaaS) model. From onboarding clients to resourcing projects, through consultancy, service provision and transition, it is integral to the success of all our services.

While PMOs come in many shapes and sizes, from smaller Project Support Offices to full enterprise PMOs, and it’s never a one size fits all, there’s always a size and shape, a solution, that will fit your exact needs. 

Stoneseed offer a complete Project Management Office (PMO) range of services from provision of single resources to a team of PMO experts; or a full PMO service package via a Managed Service. We also offer PMO Consultancy and Technical Design Authority, if you have a PMO you wish to improve or fine tune.

Find out more about our “as a Service Model ” and access the PMO resources you need now! Call me 01623 723910.

Vampire Devices

Before I leave you, let me share those vampire devices that inspired my thinking today and how much not leaving them on standby could save you each year …

Television: £24.61
Sky or Virgin Media box: £23.10
Games console: £12.17
Microwave: £16.37
Computers: £11.22
Shower: £9.80
Washing machine: £4.73
Printer: £3.81
Phone charger: £1.26

Just think how many TVs, set-top boxes, games consoles, etc, you have in your home and it’s easy to imagine these costs ramping up! As long as devices are plugged in at the wall at home, they are slowly drawing power, secretly robbing you.

Similarly, throughout its lifecycle, all those value vampires are sucking the lifeblood from your project – secretly robbing you of your best.


Find out about Stoneseed’s PMO Services

Pulse of the Profession | PMI