Seeing is Believing – How the PMOs Visibility is Increasing

The creation of Project Management Offices (PMOs) during the 1990s provided organisations across the globe with a dedicated centre of expertise in order to deliver the successful completion of projects. While this still remains the primary goal of the PMO, it is actually the perceived value of the PMO upon which its success is most commonly measured.

It is no wonder, then, that the PMO’s visibility goes in line with its constant efforts to prove it is worth the investment made into it. Measuring its own effectiveness is one method with which PMOs have endeavoured to justify their existence.

ESI’s third annual survey, The Global State of the PMO: An Analysis for 2013, reveals that the number of PMOs measuring their effectiveness has risen by 15 per cent in 2013 from 2012.

And since the survey’s conception in 2011, when 51 per cent of global respondents claimed the PMO measured its own effectiveness, the figure has now reached 68 per cent for 2013.

This is not hard to believe when you consider that the PMO is still largely seen as an overhead – one that is often called into question by the senior management team.

Yet this year’s survey illustrates that fewer PMOs are being challenged overall, reinforcing the view that the PMO is still vastly considered a valuable body within an organisation.

The more visible the PMOs are, the more they will come under executive scrutiny – but this can actually be seen as a positive development – a sign that PMOs are drawing more attention to themselves because of their position on the front lines.

So seeing is very much believing when it comes to perceived value.

Increased visibility is also a direct result of the increasing numbers of PMOs measuring their effectiveness.

This is because their ability to do so depends on the extent to which a PMO is active in the key areas of training, team motivation and customer satisfaction, in addition to the successful delivery of projects within budget and on time.

This is illustrated with the fact that 89 per cent of active PMOs claimed they measured their own effectiveness in 2013, compared with 47 per cent of non-active ones.

A new picture therefore emerges of the active PMO, which is highly involved in both client-facing efforts and effective project team management. The most valuable PMOs are, in effect, responsible for paving a structured career path for project management professionals.

Overall, PMOs with a focus on learning sustainment and workplace performance measurement were viewed the most positively. They were also the ones with the most optimism about receiving more funding in the coming year.

As with anything, the more investment that is made in the people, the more valuable the efforts will be perceived. Visible PMOs that understand that are in less danger of being disbanded and more apt to be integrated into the overall structure of the enterprise.

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