From Zero to Hero


Four Ways to Stop PMO Failure in its Tracks

By Alan Shefveland

Director of Product Management – Strategy & Innovation

Seattle, WA, USA



It’s not just Dilbert cartoons where projects are doomed before they begin. Real-life PMOs are no stranger to failure. In the past three years, PMI research found that 75 percent of Project Management Offices closed or failed to add value.

Yet, while project success metrics are less than optimistic, effective project management can deliver tremendous business value by improving project execution and strategic resource alignment. Businesses agree. An astounding 97 percent of organizations believe project management is critical to business performance and organizational success.1 In fact, the increasing drive to complete more projects on time and on budget with fewer resources means demand for project management discipline is greater than ever.

Stakes are high for underperforming PMOs. High-performing PMOs nurture capabilities that enable successful strategy implementation, contribute value to their organization and impact financial performance. While these high-performers are perceived as integral to strategy implementation initiatives, underperformers who ineffectively manage programs are viewed as cost-centers that offer little value to their organization.

In reality, some projects will fail and yet, many failures are easily avoidable. In these situations, failure rarely has anything to do with project management itself. Taking a few relatively simple corrective steps can quickly illustrate the PMO’s value and head off trouble before it impacts how the PMO is perceived.

Read on to learn some of the most common warning signs and actions you can take to go from project failure to project hero.

Warning #1

You’re asked, “How does that project map back to our goal this quarter?” and you have no clue.

What to do: Ideally you discussed the PMO department’s metrics when you first began your role. However, as business goals change, sometimes they are not communicated to each department. This is especially true in business climates that revere adaptation and transformation. In fact, almost 80 percent of project management executives don’t know how their projects align with their company’s business strategy.2 It is critical to regularly connect with the business leader to ensure that your projects are consistently mapping back to operational efficiency and business value. Book that meeting before it’s too late.

Warning #2

You receive multiple emails asking for the status of Project X.

What to do: The term “over-communication” is overused for a reason–30 percent of the time, project failure can be attributed to poor communication.2 Proactively offer update the leadership team and take a hard look at your reporting to ensure you provide a true and complete picture of the portfolio at all times. Better still, once you’ve established two-way of communication, ask if the project is a dependency for another objective. Consistent communication and robust reporting will help projects stay on course and build trust and cooperation with your stakeholders who will recognize your efforts to align projects with larger initiatives.


To read entire article, click here



About the Author

Alan Shefveland

Seattle, WA, USA


Alan Shefveland
is director of product management charged with strategy and innovation at Changepoint. He has more than 37 years of experience facilitating business and technology transformation for companies. For more than 25 years, Alan has demonstrated leadership with project, portfolio, and value management process implementations that span a wide variety of industry verticals, including finance, high-tech, light manufacturing, telecommunications and utilities.

Visit Alan’s blog at http://changepoint-blog.net/author/alan-shefveland/