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Transform the Way Your PMO Operates

career pm pmo project management Dec 07, 2022
Transform the Way Your PMO Operates

As the end of the year approaches, you can feel the excitement right around the corner. This is the time when many people make New Year’s resolutions, usually centered around health. Optimism abounds as people write down their goals: “Lose 20 pounds by the summer”, “No more junk food”, or “Exercise at least 4 days a week”. 

Then February comes.  

Statistics show that nearly 80% abandon their resolutions by February. Eighty percent! Gone are the optimism, excitement, and even slight progress that may have been made. People settle back into their routines and don’t think about changing again until the following December. 

What about the 20% who stick to their resolutions and are successful? What are they doing differently? Those who accomplish their goals have a reason to change. They have answered the question, “Why am I doing this?” It could be that the doctor ordered them to lose weight to prevent serious health problems, or a high school reunion is coming up, or maybe a wedding is around the corner. Their ‘why’ overcomes the simpler choice of doing nothing. These people are willing to invest time and money into achieving results that will last. 

PMOs Need to Transform How they Operate 

Likewise, PMOs in poor health need to make a major change to restore their health. One underlying reason “why” PMOs need to change is to stay relevant to the business, deliver value, and not be the first on the chopping block when times get tough. 
How do we know PMOs are in poor health?  Check out the latest stats from the 2022 PMO Survey from The PMO Squad:  

  • Only 43% of PMOs would rate themselves as successful,  
  • 78% don’t have a process in place to measure PMO Value, and  
  • Only 59% measure executive leader satisfaction.  

This is sad. And, it’s been this way for a LONG time. Read We Need a Project Management Intervention for the effect this is having on PMOs, Project Managers, and our customers.  

Some PMO Leaders will attempt to make healthy changes by investing in coaches, consulting firms, and mentors as Q1 begins. Hope is in the air as these experts provide insights and recommendations to prevent becoming a statistic. Come February and March, though, these good ideas have been abandoned and replaced by the way things have always been done. 

Taking a Dose of Our Own Medicine 

Transformation is the key to a healthy PMO and transformation means change. We understand the importance of Change Management in the projects our teams manage (see Include These Four Change Ability Factors in Your Next Project), but do we apply them to our own projects? Changing the way your PMO operates is a project in and of itself that would benefit from this discipline. Let’s look at how this could be done, utilizing the ADKAR Model (Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement) by PROSCI. We’ll walk through how making a change applies to losing weight as well as your PMO. 

One of the best ways to teach others how to do something is to model the behavior yourself. Actions speak louder than words, and if other teams see the transformation your PMO is going through and the positive results, they’ll be apt to follow.  

So, are you ready to get out of the rut your PMO is in, delivering projects that are just on time, under budget and in scope? Anxious to start delivering projects that deliver real business value such as increased sales, lower costs, and more efficiency? Try implementing the ADKAR model in the following steps: 

  1. Raise Awareness - Communicate to your team the vision of where you want your PMO to be by the end of the next year and the reason why. Better yet, get their input and buy-in in order to make it a joint effort. 
  2. Instill Desire - Instill the desire to change in your team. Focus on the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) and how their lives will be better because of saved time, fewer reports, more job security, etc. 
  3. Impart Knowledge - Give your team the tools and training they will need to implement the change. 
  4. Enable Ability - Empower your team to act upon the change and make a difference on each of their projects. This includes making decisions in real-time and fine-tuning processes and procedures that may not be working. 
  5. Provide Reinforcement - Regularly review and reflect on how much better the PMO is operating and perceived by business partners. How can you find out? Ask stakeholders and sponsors how you are doing. 

Working through this iterative process will prevent you from being just another February Failure in the coming year. Don’t be a statistic. Zero in on the “why” your PMO needs to change, and then make it stick in the year ahead! 


How to Transform Your PMO  

Around 80% of New Year’s resolutions are abandoned by February. Don’t let this happen to you. Resolve to make your PMO different in the year ahead by not just focusing on time, scope, and budget, but also delivering business value. 

  1. Define the Vision - If you are at Point A right now, what does Point B look like, and when will you be there? Answer the question, “Why do we need to make this change?” This will help create the roadmap for your PMO Transformation journey. Make sure you receive input from your project managers, stakeholders, executives, and anyone else your PMO interacts with regularly. 
  2. Model the Change - Apply Prosci’s ADKAR model to the change you want to make. Use the weight loss example as you explain the concept to your team and others who are interested in your transformation.
  3. Deliver Value, Not Projects - Track how much value the PMO is generating and not just that projects were delivered on time, in scope, and under budget. Focus on the business value derived, whether it be an increase in revenue, decrease in cost, or time-saving efficiency. Set up a quarterly meeting with executives to review progress.
  4. Help Other Teams Transform - Use the process that you went through and the results you delivered as examples. Help other teams transform the way they operate to focus more on business value and not just finishing projects themselves. 

Transforming your PMO to deliver value and not just projects will prevent you from becoming another failed statistic in February, and a real business partner with your company. 


ADKAR - The word “ADKAR” is an acronym for the five outcomes an individual needs to achieve for a change to be successful: Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement. The model was developed nearly two decades ago by Prosci founder Jeff Hiatt, who studied the change patterns of more than 700 organizations. 

Prosci - Founded in 1994, Prosci is the global leader in change management and the provider of choice for 80% of Fortune 100 companies. Prosci combines scientific research with the people side of change to deliver results-focused solutions that enable clients to achieve change outcomes and grow organizational change capability. 

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