The key findings include:
- The Agile Question: Only 9 percent of those surveyed said they use Agile on more than half their projects.
- Significant drop in soft skills training: only 30 percent* said their PMO provided soft skills training in 2013 compared to 41 percent in 2012.
- More PMO effectiveness measurement: 68 percent* claimed the PMO reported on its own effectiveness in 2013, compared to only 54 percent in 2012.
- Fewer PMOs Challenged: only 37 percent* stated their PMO was challenged in 2013 compared to 56 percent in 2012.
- PMO as career-crucial body: 75 percent of so-called “active” PMOs that engaged in learning sustainment and training impact measurement also create a structured career pathway for project managers.
- More Strategic: 22 percent of all PMOs operate at the strategic level.
- Project Success: 56 percent of active PMOs claimed more than 75 percent of on-time, to-budget project delivery
For decades, researchers have been trying to grapple with the concept of the Project/Program Management Office (PMO) and how it works to improve overall business performance. Because project management has become integral across all industries and sectors, the PMO plays a vital role in offering strategic, tactical or operational guidance in day-to-day business through its involvement in project and program delivery.
In its third annual survey with over 2300 respondents worldwide, ESI International has taken on the challenge of investigating the global PMO landscape. With a relatively even split amongst the respondents from APAC (29%), Europe (31%) and the Americas (35%) along with some representation from Africa and the Middle East (5%), the survey sought to reveal the latest PMO trends in light of its function, scope and approach. With three out of four project, program and portfolio managers claiming their organization has a PMO, the survey offers representative insights into the PMO’s current role, maturity level and involvement in training.
The results this year reinforce the belief that, while the PMO continues to be challenged by senior management and the C-level, the PMO is still vastly considered a valuable body within the enterprise. As with anything, the more investment that is made in the people, the more valuable the efforts are perceived. The same applies to the PMO.
Some of the survey’s findings are highlighted here:
Training and Development on a Downslide:
In its efforts to monitor the level to which PMOs are the hub of training, ESI found the percentage of PMOs involved in training and development efforts has dropped significantly in every area.
At the same time, PMOs are also managing more people than ever before, suggesting that the PMO is working with more project professionals in general without taking on an increased training function.
The PMO’s Visibility Increasing:
Compared to 2012, the number of respondents reporting that the PMO is measuring its own effectiveness increased by about 15 percent. This finding suggests there has been a significant rise in visibility as the PMO seeks to justify its existence through metrics that prove its value. At the same time, the distribution of methods with which they measured their effectiveness, whether it was project success, return on investment (ROI) or on-time, to budget project delivery, remained the same from last year.
Fewer PMOs Challenged:
On the whole, the PMO was challenged less by its various stakeholders than it was in 2012. Nevertheless, the so-called “active PMOs”, ones that engaged the most in learning sustainment and workplace performance measurement, remained the most challenged ones. This finding indicates a heightened dialogue between stakeholders and the more visible PMO, which can be interpreted as a positive development in the PMO’s evolution. No one talks about a body that doesn’t matter. In other words, the increased challenges of the most visible PMOs suggest their role is worth examining, refining and redefining as necessary.
PMO as Career Paver:
The PMO has proven to be a career-crucial body for project managers. Not surprisingly, the PMOs that measure both workplace performance and engage actively in learning sustainment tend to be the most involved in structuring the PM’s career path. It is no wonder, then, that these PMOs are also viewed as the most valuable to the people benefiting from the PMO’s activities. Three out of four active PMOs were reported as providing a structured path for project managers, compared to a global mean of 41 percent.
Strategic PMOs Most Mature:
Just under half of the PMOs surveyed were tactical or tactical with some strategic reach (46 percent). About one in five (22 percent) was strategic and roughly one in three (30 percent) was operational in nature. The survey found that the PMOs with a strategic function, as opposed to a tactical or operational one, tended to be the most mature. According to the PMO Maturity Cube model by Américo Pinto, et al., it is not so much the function that defines the PMOs level of maturity, but whether or not it fulfils its pre-defined role as either an operational, tactical or strategic body within the organization. In this survey, however, strategic PMOs with an enterprise-wide approach proved to be the most mature.
The Value of Performance Measurement:
In 2013 PMO maturity has increased across all stages for those PMOs that were active in both measuring the impact of training on workplace performance and learning sustainment. PMOs that were active in both measuring the impact of training on workplace performance and learning sustainment have higher perceptions of:
• PMO Role Fulfilment – 42 percent of respondents rated their active PMOs as either “Excellent” or “Very Good” compared with 28 percent of those who are active in neither area.
• Project Success – 56 percent of those respondents with PMOs active in measuring both training impact and learning sustainment claimed more than 75 percent of projects were delivered on time, to budget, within scope and to customer expectation compared with 39 percent for those who are active in neither.
• PMO Maturity – on average active PMOs were deemed to be 14 percent more mature across all six evolutionary stages as identified by ESI compared with those who are active in neither.
• PMO Effectiveness Measurement – 64 percent (compared to 45 percent globally) used increased customer satisfaction as their effectiveness measuring stick; 43 percent used ROI (compared to 24 percent globally); and
54 percent reported using a raised PM profile (compared to 35 percent globally) as their preferred method for measuring effectiveness.
Much Agile About Nothing:
Despite all the media hype, Agile is not being used nearly as much as we had expected. Fewer than half the organizations claimed to take an Agile approach at all. The PMO’s role in supporting Agile teams is most likely found in the area of coaching and mentoring.
The Final Word
While PMO training activity is down across the board, those strategic PMOs that have shown a dedication to project professionals’ career path by engaging in training impact measurement and sustained learning activities were viewed as most mature and valuable to the organization. They also reported the highest project success rate. The trend toward increased effectiveness measurement is also a positive one.
The PMO has reached a point in its evolution to be considered a service provider whose contract could be cancelled should it not deliver the promised value. Similarly, the PMO could possibly lose executive sponsorship and financial backing if it is unable to prove its value or justify the investment the organization has made.
Ultimately, the PMO’s success is reliant on understanding customer needs and how to meet them while offering clear, measurable results. The PMO maturation process requires the ability to meet new needs as they arise, raise its level of service to meet new demands and provide new services as required.
The PMO is best positioned to take the temperature of its staff, continuously adding value, optimizing business performance and ensuring project professionals receive the resources required to deliver on time and within the scope and budget set out before them.
About ESI International
ESI is a global, project-focused training company. Our clients tell us that we’re better and different because we take them beyond traditional training to achieve sustained, measurable results. Our staff/professionals are dedicated and passionate about enabling organisations to improve vital skills to achieve great things now and prepare them for what’s next. We do this by putting you in control of how you manage your projects, your people and your contracts and bringing certainty to your commitments. We are built to make you better.
Website: www.esi-intl.co.uk • Email: firstname.lastname@example.org • Tel: +44 (0)207 017 7100