Carrying out a PMO Maturity Assessment can improve organizational performance
Whether you have recently introduced a PMO into your organization or have had an established function for a while, running through the process of a PMO maturity assessment can pay real dividends. It can help identify potential improvement opportunities and ensure that you are modeling best practice.
Although the term ‘PMO’ is widely used, there are significant variations in the structure, roles, and perceived value of PMOs. These variations reflect the need to assess performance to ensure that your project management office is set up in the most appropriate and efficient way for your desired outcomes.
Where the PMO manages large and complex work programs, it’s vital that you have confidence in the processes and procedures being used. It shouldn’t be treated as an operational overhead or an enabling function; instead, it’s a generator of value in its own right as a service provider which delivers tangible results.
Identifying the intended function of your PMO
Not all PMOs are created equal. Some have an operational focus, whereas some are positioned more strategically. Before starting the maturity assessment process, the important thing is to have an honest conversation with all stakeholders to agree the intended function of your PMO.
You need to know your end goal, i.e., how would you ideally like your office to be operating? This will allow you to assess the gap between the current operation and that desired endpoint. Without that shared understanding of where you want to get to, it’s difficult to articulate your PMO’s current position. It’s also worth considering at this point whether you have the software that you need to enable your project management office to deliver. If you need advice on introducing a new project management system then our recent article on PPM tool implementation will help guide you through the process.
Key elements of PMO Maturity
The maturity assessment process asks you to consider some of the key elements which make a PMO useful to an organization. Is there standardized governance to ensure that all projects run to similar guidelines? Are there consolidated processes, creating cost savings and driving efficiencies? Can you easily access information, meaning that reporting against milestones is pain-free? The answers to these questions will form the backbone of your PMO maturity assessment.
The Five Stages of PMO Maturity
Once you have achieved a shared understanding of the key function of your PMO and have considered the way that your office currently operates, you can identify where the office sits on the scale of maturity.
Stage 1: Processes are defined for individual tasks
At this level of operation, a PMO may have standardized processes to deal with particular issues. PMO staff work relatively autonomously on their projects, without much read-across at program level. This inhibits the visibility of overall organizational progress towards program goals and reduces the efficacy of the PMO at the strategic level.
Stage 2: Processes are more structured and standardized
At stage 2, processes become more standardized and are used more broadly, although often only on the most critical projects. Senior leaders are more aware of the benefits of the PMO, although they may not be receiving many useful deliverables at this stage. Paperwork such as project plans and schedules is in existence but often inconsistent.
Stage 3: Organizational consistency is achieved
The next stage reflects a step-change in PMO operation towards organization-wide processes and procedures. The PMO can mandate the format and frequency of elements such as project plans, schedules, and estimates, with staff across the business recognizing the products and engaging with the processes.
Reporting becomes regular and valuable, and there is an analysis of performance at project level. Historical trends are considered as well as the current picture.
Stage 4: Integration of the PMO into corporate processes
At stage 4 of maturity, the PMO is much more embedded within the organization. Senior leaders see the value of the office and mandate compliance with processes, and the office itself can provide in-depth performance information at both project and program levels.
Analysis of data and reporting of outcomes are standardized, recognized, and regularly scheduled. Historical data and trends are being used to predict future performance, with risks clearly articulated.
Stage 5: The PMO is an optimized, embedded critical function
At the final stage of maturity, the PMO is a critical business function that drives organizational activity and provides visibility for leadership on risks and opportunities. All projects and programs can be monitored for efficiency and outcomes as there are fully operational, comprehensive assessment processes in place, and action is taken where issues are identified.
The PMO can flex with the needs of the business, pivoting to new projects or programs as and when required.
We can help deliver a high-quality PMO maturity assessment
The Project Management Institute 2020 ‘Forging Future Focused Culture’ study highlighted the importance of maturity to business, with organizations that are highly mature in their capabilities seeing just an 11% project failure rate as compared to a 21% failure rate for those with low maturity. These figures underline the importance of assessing your PMO maturity levels. Taking your eye off the ball on this vital issue can lead to lost revenue, scope creep, missed deadlines, and unmet goals.
At DRMcNatty, we have 30 years of experience supporting the project and program activities of businesses in a range of industries. Our breadth of knowledge makes us uniquely qualified to help you with your assessment of PMO maturity. Our understanding of the various stages of maturity, and the actions that an organization needs to take to move through those stages, is second-to-none. Our qualified, dynamic expert staff are ideally placed to help your organization achieve its program management goals.