Top 10 PMO Worst Practices: Pitfalls to Avoid

Dave Blumhorst is VP Professional Services for Daptiv Solutions. He is a seasoned executive that has run IT, professional services and finance departments.

At the 2010 Gartner ITxpo, research estimated that Project Management Offices have a failure rate of 50 percent or more on their first try. I have engaged with hundreds of enterprise customers to help ensure they are successful with their PMO organizations from the outset and help them avoid common pitfalls that lead to failure. Based on that experience, I've compiled the top 10 PMO worst practices and advice on how to avoid them.

  1. The PMO playing methodology cop. If there is a common refrain to failed PMOs, this is it. The PMO becomes the “Methodology Police” tasked to enforce methodologies--often ill-fitted ones--rigorously. At best, this leads to complaints from project managers. At worst, it leads to open revolt and ignoring the methodology entirely. Rather than becoming an aid and guide to project managers that creates consistency in PM practices, this PMO has become the PM’s worst enemy. The PMO loses visibility into the project portfolio, and often fails due to lack of support.
  2. Implementing a methodology without a framework. We have seen many PMOs try to implement a Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) across their organization. This is great for some software development teams, but can be completely inaproropriate for infrastructure and process improvement teams. The point here is that one size does not fit all. A better structure…

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I think somebody should come up with a way to breed a very large shrimp. That way, you could ride him, then, after you camped at night, you could eat him. How about it, science?

- Jack Handey