PMO maturity has become a prominent focus for organizations that want to transform the way they approach project management (PM), manage operational processes and enhance overall business growth and development. The key question: Is your project management office (PMO) mature enough to keep pace with the needs of your organization and the demands of your customers? Here are four key indicators that your PMO maturity might be lagging behind as well as suggestions for getting back on track.

1. There Are No Formal PM Processes in Place

There are several reasons that your organization could have no formal PM processes in place. Perhaps you were once a small business and your PM process hasn’t advanced alongside your growth or maybe you’ve just muddled along waiting for a disaster to push you into adopting a process. Whatever the reason, a lack of formal PM processes is a significant indicator that your PMO maturity is lagging — or perhaps nonexistent. A lack of process becomes a time waster, a resource waster and, potentially, a customer loser. If you’re always struggling to figure out when a deliverable is due, who is assigned to a task, or what resources you have to accomplish a project, you’re costing yourself and your company time and money.

Tip: Start creating structure in your PM processes by identifying your top pain points and working backward. Are you consistently late on deliverables? Do you blow your budget? Are you overworking some employees and underworking others? This honest look at where you’re struggling will give you a framework for where to begin establishing a set process.

2. Your PMO Has Not Standardized Project, Program and Portfolio Management Activities

Just as formal processes help an organization achieve PMO maturity, so, too, does standardization in project, program and portfolio management activities. Standardization puts everyone on the same page and leaves very little to chance. Think of it like a chain retailer. No matter which establishment you visit, you know what to expect when you walk through the door — whether or not they accept your preferred credit card, if they require you to bring your own bags, how their return policies work, what employee uniforms look like and so on.

These seemingly small standards are enormous in terms of how much time they save you in your shopping experience. Now think about a time that even one of those standards was skipped and the amount of inconvenience it caused you. The same benefits translate to your organizational efficiency.

Tip: Assess what you can standardize within your project, program and portfolio management activities. As with processes, take a look at your pain points and start exploring where standardization can ease them. For example, can you shift tasks to a PPM tool? De-silo your information with centralized reporting? Speaking of tools, let’s look at another indicator your PMO maturity might be lagging — the lack of digital PPM tools.

3. Formal PM Processes Are in Place, But PPM Tools Are Inefficient or Nonexistent

One of the biggest challenges that prevent an organization from achieving true PMO maturity is a reliance on outdated tools for planning, tasking, tracking and executing your PM strategy. If your PMs are frantically thumbing through stacks of spreadsheets to answer questions during already time-consuming meetings, your PM methodology needs a serious update.

Tip: A reliable PPM tool will increase visibility, de-silo data, advance reporting, increase overall efficiency and help your PMO become a reliable partner in increasing efficiency, customer satisfaction and business value. While these are huge benefits, don’t just run out and implement the first platform you see. Do the hard work discussed above to ensure that your tool fits the specific needs of your business.

4. Standard Tools Are in Place but They Do Not Meet All Your Requirements 

If you have a PPM tool in operation, you’re already working toward PMO maturity. However, if that tool is not addressing needs like billing and integration, it may not be right for your organizational needs. This typically occurs when a PPM tool is implemented quickly, without a lot of research on the front end. That is why it is so important to examine your pain points and business needs thoroughly before selecting a PPM tool.

Tip: Check in with your provider and find out if it is possible to expand on the features of your existing platform. If it is not, it is time for a hard look at whether the benefits of keeping the status quo outweigh the pain of shifting to a new tool. It is also worthwhile to chat with other vendors and explore if they have compatible options that can help you make your existing tool work better for you. 

These four indicators create a great starting point for assessing your PMO maturity. Don’t be discouraged if you discover that one, two, or even all four of these indicators ring true for your organization — they offer a starting point for the transformation you wish to achieve and a road map for how to get there.

Back to Mastering PMO Project Management.

Rachel Hentges
PMO Influencer
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Rachel Hentges

Rachel Hentges is challenging PMO leaders to think differently about their role. Rachel is the author of key industry related surveys, reports, blogs and more that challenge the status quo of today’s PMOs.