3 Warning Signs Your New PMO Has Lost Its Swagger

Jesse L. Santana, Jr. draws from his broad professional experiences in leading projects and programs, as well as deploying PMO teams that have helped a variety of organizations mature their project environments. His career stops range from Fortune 200 global banks to start-up companies and also include organizations such as the pioneer of Internet banking--USAA, the US Federal Reserve Bank and a variety of mid-size and small enterprises, including YouTube’s former hosting provider Peer1 Hosting. Prior to his corporate and leadership experiences, he proudly served in the U.S. Air Force.

Poor leadership. If you haven’t experienced it yet, you will. They say you can learn a lot by observing bad strategy. I was once asked for advice on how to determine if a new PMO is failing. I think I’ll address the more appropriate question—what to focus on if you’ve landed a job in a new PMO that is outright ineffective…one that has no swagger.

Being part of several large project management offices (PMOs), launching a successful emerging retail-based PMO over the course of nearly two years and having experienced a few PMOs that have lost their way affords me the opportunity to share some thoughts on this topic.

Below are three signs that your newly branded PMO has lost its swagger—and some great tips to help you forge onward, even when the path is not clear.

1. Your PMO owner is inexperienced (aka, the only stupid question is the one that isn't asked). If you are not careful, you can find yourself under a leadership structure that may place a focus on formulas for how a PMO "should" work.

Rather than serving a function that creates real customer value, you may enter into an endless academic loop that never delivers results. Reciting A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge versus applying PMBOK® Guide is not the same, and I continue to see it happen with inexperienced PMO leadership. Applying best …

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"That rainbow song's no good. Take it out."

- MGM Executive Memo after first showing of The Wizard of Oz

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