Implementing PMO’s lead to higher project failure rates

Before your PMO, implementation project failure rates were 0%. Having implemented your PMO the statistics are clearly demonstrating that many of your projects are showing less than satisfactory delivery timescales, overspends and/or scope creep, or even non-delivery. Your project failure rates have increased – what a waste of money the PMO must be, I hear you say.

But, think about it…

Were you recording the same project statistics prior to the implementation of the PMO? I’d suggest that if you were, your project failure rates were never really at 0%. Closing projects early can be a sign of good governance – no point pouring away good money after bad… In reality, with the introduction of a PMO, it’s likely that it will be the first time that you have recorded this type of information. This will provide you with your new true baseline, against which you can measure an increase in project delivery performance, demonstrate that benefits are being realised sooner, and that the PMO is adding value to your organisation.

One of the challenges you’ll have to face is communicating effectively to your Board…

They must accept that some “project failure” is acceptable at the beginning and the quicker you “fail” projects the better. So long as you learn from and do not repeat mistakes or oversights. It’s all part of maturing, or ‘growing up’.

Simply by gathering basic statistics on project delivery timescales, budgets, and planned features delivered it will enable you to highlight potential pain points. You may discover common themes, or business areas that could benefit from additional support from the PMO. Ok, so let’s assume that the PMO is doing its job to ensure that the ‘right’ projects are being delivered. The PMO should also be ensuring that the change is delivered consistently and well, through standard processes and trained competent staff.

This consistency of delivery is provided by a Centre of Excellence (CoE), incorporating:

  • Standards
  • Consistency of methods and processes
  • Knowledge management
  • Assurance
  • Training

If any of these items are not embedded within your organisation, I’m sure you’ll agree that the statistics are likely to reflect this less mature portfolio, programme and/or project environment.

If you haven’t heard of the CHAOS Manifesto (a report produced by The Standish Group it’s certainly worth a read. It’s based on the collection of project case information for real-life IT environments and software projects. It has been collated over the previous 18 years and primarily across the USA and Europe.

The report concluded that in 2012; 74% of projects were delivered over time, 59% over budget and that they delivered 69% of the planned features! 

Wouldn’t it be interesting to see how your organisation fares against these quite alarming statistics? And even if your organisation is performing above and beyond these statistics wouldn’t it be a valuable exercise in demonstrating this to your Board, highlighting that your PMO is adding real value in supporting effective business change.

So, now you’ve thought about it; do you need to work on turning around certain areas of your organisations’ projects, developing and supporting your less experienced project managers, performing regular project audits or look to outsource some of the projects to experienced project managers because you simply do not have the capacity within your organisation? These are just some of the activities that can help you increase the maturity of your internal project management environment – leading to more project successes, increased morale and reduced project costs by delivering a greater Return on Investment which will certainly please those key stakeholders.

The trend for PMO’s in 2015?

It is all about supporting organisations become even better at delivering key projects. What better way to start demonstrating growth and improvement than starting to collate project performance data NOW?

Paul Marshall is a highly experienced PM professional who has run numerous programmes/projects within a diverse range of industries, and can bring valuable experience to make your programme/project a success. Paul is also a PMO guru, championing effective change and governance.  

Give us a call or e-mail to discuss how we at Prosperity 24.7 can help manage your projects +44 (0) 1534 877247 or