Project Management: Reinventing the PMO

Does this sound familiar? Your team is celebrating the on-time, on-budget launch of yet another big technology program, but it’s feeling like a hollow victory. Because while the program meets all the criteria you established at kickoff, whether it’s actually going to deliver what the business needs is anyone’s guess. 

What happened?

Lately, we are seeing a lot of fingers being pointed in the direction of the Program Management Office (PMO). After all, they’re the ones who are responsible for guiding the program to a successful launch. So if it’s not a success, it’s their fault. Right? 

Well, not so fast.

The PMO is usually designed to just make sure programs are delivered on time and on budget. Making sure they actually deliver results that are in alignment with broader business objectives is another job altogether.

Too often, the PMO gets caught up in the day-to-day responsibilities of program administration and program management, even as bigger issues loom. Their inability to drive the program within the context of big-picture business goals and objectives means that many PMOs deliver programs that are technically successful according to the technology team’s standards–but fail the business value test.  

Most companies with PMOs are aware that something more is needed more is needed. As a result, we’ve seen a lot of companies asking more of their PMOs. They’re rethinking how they’re structured to see what works–and what doesn’t. 

The most effective approach we’ve seen so far is what we call a Results Management Office (RMO)–an approach that builds on the most effective elements of the PMO, expanding its scope in a structural way to keep strategic outcomes in the crosshairs. The RMO approach is grounded in linking smart business choices and rigorous technology implementations, often with hundreds of millions of dollars on the line.  That takes discipline above all else–with a relentless focus on creating business value through an orderly, structured process. 

Exactly how the RMO is designed depends on the individual needs of each organization, but we believe there are four core principles that should be part of every RMO.

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