Reasons why PPM Strategies and PMO Initiatives Fail

Ian Needs

In our recent eBook: Why PPM and PMOs Fail: Best Practices in Coordinating and Optimising your PPM and PMO Strategy to Deliver an Active PMO - we explored the many reason why PPM strategies and PMO initiatives fail.

The main consequences of a failed PPM Strategy or a PMO initiative, is losing control over your ability to impact the business in a positive way. For example:

  • Projects go from Green to Red with no warning
  • As projects get towards the end they are suddenly far behind
  • Knock-on impacts from other projects are not understood across the portfolio
  • Projects could have been stopped months earlier

While the leaders of the PMO have some culpability in these issues, in terms of failure to perform and communicate, there is also no doubt that some of the problems come from issues that are organisational in nature. For example:

  • Information reported is not accurate
  • PMO leaders are too dependent on what you are told
  • Projects are started without a clear understanding of all dependencies
  • The projects should have never started

To resolve these issues PMO leaders need to kick the tyres and challenge what they see by providing continuous active, advice, guidance and assurance. They need to properly initiate change so that projects go wrong at the start rather than at the end – before any significant investment has been made. To gain this control, your PMO needs visibility and control over 4 key elements people, money, deliverables and benefits – that’s where PPM comes into play.

Without it your PMO will be passive and re-active


  • Is your PMO predominantly administration focused?
  • Are you highly dependent on what you are told?
  • Do you mainly collate and present information
  • Are you continually dealing with an out of date picture of project status and progress?

If the answer is Yes to any of these questions, it’s time to act now.

Following are seven criteria that define an outstanding PMO. If your PMO meets all these criteria, it is no doubt adding great value to the business and there will be no perceived gap between the interests of the company and the PMO.


  1. Has well-defined and achievable objectives
  2. Delivers responsibility, governance, and oversight
  3. Viewed as supporting the business and IT strategy
  4. Utilises established methodologies and framework for project management
  5. Able to measure and prove the realisation of benefits (business value)
  6. Has outward focus on business needs, not inward focus on processes
  7. Practices good relationship management, from executive sponsorship to project management.

The bottom line is that in order to separate a best-in-class and fully mature PMO from the rest of the pack you not only require great information, such as best practices, but you also need great PMO software.