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Reinhard Wagner on PMO and Value

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As part of our work to prepare for the PMO and Value conference, PMO SIG asked Reinhard Wagner, President of IPMA to let us have his views on PMO, value, and even to give us some PMO Wisdom advice!

During the Benefits Summit, PMO SIG ran a workshop in which the delegates identified 18 different types of ‘value’ according to their organisations. This can make defining value very difficult indeed! How do you define the value of PMO?

The 18 different types of ‘value’ collected during the Benefits Summit are fine as they may be different perspectives or pieces of the ‘big picture’ regarding the value of a PMO.

Projects are performed to achieve strategic objectives. The PMO enables the organisation in performing projects and programmes in the most effective (achieving the strategic objectives) and efficient (using available resources to the best extent) way.

It enables through various support functions, e.g. through making the right standards available, through training and coaching the actors in that organisation and through supporting the planning and controlling of projects and programmes.

Thus, the value of a PMO can be defined as the improvement of the capability of an organisation performing projects and programmes. This value can be decomposed into various Key Performance Indicators; on the one hand KPIs for improving the effectiveness and on the other hand KPIs for the improvement of the efficiency.

Furthermore, the improvement should also encompass the capabilities (and satisfaction) of key stakeholders, e.g. senior executives, project and programme managers as well as staff / contractors / other related parties. This is certainly more difficult to measure so IPMA builds on Bloom´s Taxonomy which might be the right measure for these capability improvements.

PMOs continue to fail because of a lack of sponsorship – how do you think PMOs can effectively demonstrate their value to their organisation and get buy-in?

Offer yourself constantly as a service provider and make sure your Customers understand the value you are adding to the organisation and themselves.

In a survey in Germany we found out, that two thirds of the PMOs are not involved in Strategic Planning Activities. This is a pity, because a PMO could help top management to build on the experiences collected through projects and programmes.

However, PMOs are more focused on operational support functions, not strategic planning. This needs to change to survive on the long run.

Furthermore, the survey highlighted that the project and programme managers do not see a personal value in collaborating with a PMO. They often perceive the PMO as ‘policing’ function of top management and thus do not build the trust needed.

Make clear, why you need information and make it easily available to project and programme managers, as well as the Senior management. Offer your support (e.g. coaching) actively to project and programme managers.

Marketing a PMO helps a lot! Communicate the efforts and the results of your PMO on all channels and demonstrate how you will continue on the long run.

Taking into account that tangible results are becoming more and more important for PMOs, how do you think the value question will inform the PMO of the future?

PMOs are always questioned, whether they are needed or not.

A PMO is always challenged by some parties of the organisation; it is part of the power game and PMO often loses that game. Taking part in the power games may work for a certain time period, for other periods it may be difficult to get the message through to the board.

Thus, the best option is to build a proper ‘business case’ for a PMO, showing the investments needed and the expected value delivered in a transparent way.

A Balanced Scorecard (BSC) provides a great mechanism for making the expectations transparent. All four dimensions of the BSC are relevant, the finance, customer, process and the development dimension with respective KPIs and information about the As-Is as well as the To-Be state together with appropriate measures. It´s a bit like starting a new company…

Lastly, if you could give us one nugget of PMO Wisdom what would it be?

The Head of PMO should not be the best project manager of the organisation; he or she should be a senior executive with experience in directing projects and programmes and (more important) with a good relationship with senior management and executives of the respective organisation.

The PMO needs to build (more) on relationships than project management expertise.

The archive of PMO wisdom interviews can be heard on the APM PMO SIG microsite page.


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