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PMO and Maturity: The trick is in the Story

PMO maturity is intrinsically linked to the maturity of the organisation that it serves right? Yes and no is the simple answer.

The PMO cannot co-exist with an organisation without taking into account its maturity. A top-flight PMO cannot exist as an effective business partner whilst the organisation around it is not working to at the same level.

At the same time, a PMO cannot work to the lowest common denominator if it wants to become an indispensable part of the change community that provides true value.

The juxtaposition of the PMO providing the right amount of support to the organisation with the right level of ‘out of the comfort zone’ driving force continues and is not easily answerable. Or is it?

The maturity of PMO can be attached to the standard initial, repeatable, defined, managed and optimised stages that are recognised, but the problem is often that we don’t take into account the journey that the PMO has been and continues to be on.

PMOs typically begin life because of a key driver (usually someone want visibility, or clarity on where their people are). When you add that there are four key areas where PMOs add value; Strategy, Centre of Excellence, Delivery, and Assurance, and then realise that it’s OK for PMOs to be in all four spaces – a standard model won’t work.

Your PMOs level of strategic support may not be as repeatable as others, but your PMO may not need it because the organisation doesn’t warrant it.

So, what to do? Talk to people to define what your PMO should and needs to be, and adapt any maturity assessment to your own circumstances of course! Easy right? Not so much.

Maturity can be reviewed but not in isolation of the organisation or in spite of the story of the PMO in question. So, when looking at your own, answer some key questions:

Why does the PMO exist? Understanding what it means to have a PMO by someone other than the team is highly desirable when looking at maturity, ask a broad range of people to get the best value for your review

How far into each of the areas of value is the PMO at the moment? If your PMO needs to be more delivery focused, then your assessment should reflect that, if it’s all about capability the focus of the review should change

What is the vision for the PMO in the future? If the organisation needs the PMO to adapt, then this needs to be taken into consideration, it’s OK for a ‘repeatable’ to be enough

When does the PMO need to change? Define your roadmap and therefore your review based on a logical and achievable timeline, align it to your organisation long term planning if need be; don’t distinguish yourself too much or you’ll be left alone to figure it out (no PMO is an island – or an ivory tower).

Wellingtone has recently produced the PMO Maturity Assessment Tool, this can help to provide a benchmark for future change.

 

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