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Need High Performance? Follow the Lead of these Best-Practice PMOs

Posted by Deborah Bigelow Crawford

Deborah Bigelow Crawford has more than 20 years of experience in business management and handles the operational and administrative functions of PM Solutions. Ms. Bigelow Crawford also serves as Co-CEO of the PM College®, PM Solutions' training division, where she is responsible for the fiscal management and quality assurance of all training and professional development programs. Prior to joining PM Solutions, she served as the Executive Director of the Project Management Institute (PMI), and was instrumental in providing the foundation and infrastructure for the exponential growth that the Institute has maintained over the last 10 years. In addition, she served as the Executive Director of the PMI Educational Foundation. Over the last decade, she has authored numerous articles in PM Network, Chief Project Officer, and Optimize magazines. Ms. Bigelow Crawford is also co-author of the book Project Management Essentials. She has presented a variety of papers as a speaker at international symposia and conferences, and is a member of the National Association of Female Executives and the Project Management Institute.

PM Solutions Research's State of the PMO 2016 study revealed some interesting facts about the importance of project management training.

Over the years, we have seen more and more PMOs become responsible for training and development functions. Among the 226 companies that responded to the survey last year, more than half (60%) of PMOs have a project management training program in place (up 11% from 2014).

However, when you look only at PMOs in high-performing organizations (high performers are defined by the extent they realize their organizational goals), the percentage responsible for training rises significantly, to 85%.  Although the average number of days of training per year (5 days) is the same as in 2014, there is significant difference between PMOs in high-performing organizations (8 days) and PMOs in low performers (3 days) in terms of the number of days of PM training they offer on average.  There’s also a direct correlation between the capability of the PMO and whether they have established PM career paths and offer PM training.  And PMOs in high-performing organizations are much more likely to have established PM career paths, offer PM training, and evaluate the competency of project managers than PMOs in low performers.

Our research shows a definite correlation between a PMO’s capability and the number of functions it engages in.  Also, a much higher percentage of PMOs in high-performing organizations engage in pretty much all the PMO functions listed here, compared with PMOs in low performers:

  • executive management advice/support
  • enterprise risk management
  • project management software implementation/management
  • management of project managers
  • skills identification
  • project manager performance evaluation
  • project management training curriculum development and coordination
  • project management training needs requirements and contracting
  • PMO performance monitoring / controlling
  • communicating the PMO’s business value to business peers
  • strategic project ROI validation.

Bottom line is that high-performing PMOs contributed a significantly higher percentage of value in all measures of performance, especially in percentage improvement in projects aligned with business objectives (65% vs. 19%).  So if your organization is seeking to improve its project and program execution, the message is clear:  commit to the development of a PMO at the strategic level and invest in developing the skillset of your staff to perform the functions required of the Best in Class! 

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