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5 Ways to Change Your PMO Game

career growth pm pmo project management Mar 21, 2023
5 Ways to Change Your PMO Game

Baseball gets it. 

Baseball holds the unenviable reputation of slow game play, and, let’s face it, being a bit boring at times. How have fans reacted to this reality in recent years? By voting with their feet: they are not showing up to games in person, nor are they watching on TV. Fewer people means less tickets sold, dwindling viewership, and less revenue, for everyone from the guy selling beer in the stands to companies spending millions on TV advertising. 

What did Baseball do about it? Two things. First, they listened to their fans, and second, they changed the game. Here’s what baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said in a press release:  

“Our guiding star in thinking about changes to the game has always been our fans. 'What do our fans want to see on the field?' We've conducted thorough and ongoing research with our fans, and certain things are really clear. Number 1, fans want games with better pace. Two, fans want more action, more balls in play. And three, fans want to see more of the athleticism of our great players.” 

The recently formed Joint Competition Committee then voted in favor of three rule changes aimed at improving pace of play, action, and safety at the Major League Baseball level. These included implementing a pitch timer, defensive shift limits, and bigger bases. If you’re into baseball (or not), here’s an interesting article  detailing the changes.  

The bottom line? Baseball had a problem of staying relevant, they listened to their fans, and evolved the game. 

Do You Get It? 

As an Executive, VP, or PMO Leader, do you get it? Are you listening to what your fans (aka stakeholders) are saying about the project management game you are playing? What do they want? It may be different than what you think.  

Below is an excerpt from The PMO Squad’s Project Management Office Hours podcast interview with Dr. Harold Kerzner from the International Institute for Learning. He said:  

“You now measure the success of a project based upon benefits realization and business value created. Project Managers no longer make presentations to the first floor of the building. Project Managers now make briefings and presentations to the top floor of the building and even the Board of Directors. That’s a significant change!” (timestamp 17:30)  

Did you see anything about time, scope, and budget? Nope. Benefits realization and business value created is going to be different for every project sponsor, and it’s up to you to find out what it is. Once you find this out, it’s time for you to evolve your project management game. 

 Change the Game 

What can you do as a leader in your organization to make the change so many of your stakeholders are asking for? The following five recommendations are a good place to start.  

  • Include the PMO at the C-Suite Level - Many PMOs are buried deep within a company. They never see the light of day when it comes to strategy development. Go ahead and change the rules–rather than report to the VP of Something or Another, have the PMO report to the Chief Operating Officer, or even the President of the company. This gives the PMO a seat at the executive table, where they can contribute to the development of value-generating strategy, rather than just execute the plan. 
  • Tie Projects to Strategy - When the PMO is helping to develop strategy, they can align all projects to the strategy that is developed. A company’s strategy generally consists of multiple pillars, all representing goals or changes in direction the company wants to make. The PMO can make sure all projects under consideration will support moving one or more strategies forward. Having a hard time finding a home for a project? Change the game and don’t do it! Focus valuable resources on projects that make a difference and create business value.  
  • Tie Performance Reviews to Projects - The adage “that which gets measured gets managed” holds especially true when it comes to performance reviews. Employees that know their ratings, raises, and opportunities for advancement are tied to completing projects that create value will be laser-focused on getting those projects done. Business value is not generated until a project is complete and implemented by Operations or paid for by a customer. The faster everyone gets there, the better. 
  • Train Everyday Project Managers - Company leaders are deluding themselves if they say they know about all projects going on in their company. “Yes, every single project in our organization of thousands of people is managed through our PMO,” is just not true. There are skunkworks and accidental project managers* everywhere. Change the game and embrace these Everyday Project Managers and train them to make a valuable difference in your company.  
    *We don’t call them “accidental project managers” at The PMO Squad. We prefer the term Everyday Project Managers. 
  • Promote a Project Management Culture - Ensure your company's culture encourages and promotes project management. This will inspire your team to continue to deliver the value-generating results that your stakeholders demand. How can you do this? International PMO Day is coming up on May 9, 2023 and International Project Management day is November 2, 2023. Set time aside those weeks for your PMO teams to attend the conferences and take training. Publicly acknowledge and appreciate the value these hard-working managers of projects have generated for your company. 

The last thing you want your stakeholders to do is vote with their budgets, and to stop spending on your PMO. Implementing one or all of the suggestions above will make a big difference in how your “fans” view the project management game you are planning. If you find they don’t like the game, take a cue from baseball and change the rules. Focus on realizing benefits from the projects you deliver, and you’ll be playing for a long time to come! 


How to Know if You Need to Change the Rules 

You don’t want to change the rules of the game if everyone enjoys the game. So, how can you find out? 

  1. Ask Your Stakeholders - Set up sessions with those who work with your PMO and ask them if they enjoy the game that is being played. How Does Your Project Taste? is a great place to start for some questions to kick off that conversation.  
  2. Perform a Gap Analysis - Listen to what your stakeholders said they liked or want to see, and compare it to what your PMO is doing. Themes will develop of what needs to change, if anything. 
  3. Change the Rules - If you find that the game you are playing is no longer enjoyable to your stakeholders, change the rules. Focus more on what they would like to see (hint: it’s going to have to do with delivering business value) and change the rules accordingly. Implement the five suggestions from the article.  
  4. Ask Your Stakeholders, Again - Come back in 3-6 months and ask your stakeholders what they think of the game. Regularly ask this question and make changes as appropriate.  


Everyday Project Managers - People who are managing projects but do not have the title Project Manager. Formerly known as accidental project managers, but The PMO Squad feels the term, Everyday Project Managers acknowledges and represents the role these people play on the team. 

Skunkworks - An innovative undertaking, involving a small group of people, that is outside the normal research and development channels within an organization. 



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