The 8 Qualities of World Class and Successful PMOs

The 8 Qualities of World Class and Successful PMOs

Project management has become a differentiating factor for many businesses. And some companies have figured out ways to increase the effectiveness of this part of the business, leading to even more success.

Yet, one may wonder, what qualities and features of project management offices (PMOs) help these companies experience success? Recently Price Waterhouse Cooper (PwC) and the Project Management Institute (PMI) joined together to develop a few studies to reveal what makes a PMO high-performing.

Hearing about what other successful PMO offices are doing to differentiate themselves from competitors can help you establish some tactics and benchmarks to propel your teams to do the same.

So, check out these takeaways from these PwC and PMI studies for more insight into what has helped some PMOs to rise to success:

Alignment Between PMOs and Senior Leaders Matters

In the Navigating the Talent Gap Study , researchers found that one of the significant attributes that separated frontrunner PMOs from those lagging was the strategic alignment between PMOs and senior leadership.

The highest traits that all senior leaders recognized among PMOs were problem-solving and relationship builders, but more senior leaders in frontrunner organizations saw project managers as creative, realizing visions, and essential.

This data points to how crucial it is for PMOs to be seen as a creative and essential force by senior leaders as this is an important feature that can help contribute to PMOs' success.

Expanding Recruitment

Even in the age of remote work, many companies are still prioritizing hiring professionals in their general local area, but judging by the data, hiring managers may want to expand their hiring strategy.

According to the Navigating the Talent Gap Study , frontrunner organizations reach out beyond their geographic area to recruit project managers. Almost 50% are recruiting professionals outside of their local area, and 45% use flexible staffing solutions like independent contractors and part-time employees.

Lastly, frontrunner organizations are 8% more likely than other organizations to embrace flexible work arrangements like remote work and alternative work schedules.

High-performing PMOs are becoming comfortable with being flexible in approaching hiring and the parameters they set for employees to work.

It's All About Measuring Impact

The phrase "it's hard to improve what you don't measure" has been attributed to various famous management and business influencers and thought leaders throughout the years, and it couldn't be more accurate.

PMI's study, Measuring What Matters found that 55% of the top 10% of PMOs used technology to effectively measure the impact of projects and programs.

This sentiment makes sense as understanding the performance of various initiatives gives PMOs and other individuals the information they need to improve a program or do it away with it altogether if it isn't working.

Involved the C-Suite in Communications

Getting buy-in from senior leaders is essential for success, and this stat from Measuring What Matters brings this point home even further. Their research revealed that 73% of the top 10% of PMOs improved the communication and transparency around projects with the C-suite over the past 12 months.

Senior leaders are not always in-tune with what is happening across departments, and prioritizing consistent communication to help them understand the work is being done can increase the likelihood of their support and overall buy-in.

Another relevant stat to drive this point home is that 57% of the top 10% of PMOs engaged the C-suite to develop metrics for the PMOs. So, they're prioritizing consistent communication and engaging them in creating benchmarks they will adhere to.

Schedule and Quality Metrics Win Out

Well, there are a variety of things you can measure when you're trying to help your company differentiate itself from the competition — particularly when it comes to project management.

However, a couple of metrics truly win out for data collection. According to Measuring What Matters, the top three input metrics that the top 10% of PMOs tracked were adherence to schedule, quality of work, and adherence to budget.

It makes absolute sense since these attributes are some of the most crucial regarding successfully leading a project to completion. But, it helps to have some evidence to solidify how critical these measurements genuinely are.

Customer Satisfaction Is A Great Indicator of Success

How do you know your approach is working? Well, customer satisfaction seems to be at the top of the list for top PMOs. Seventy-eight percent of the top 10% of PMOs measured customer satisfaction as an output measure, whereas only 66% of total PMOs did the same.

Ultimately, your customers will be one of the best indicators of whether your project management approach is working. There are a variety of ways to get valuable feedback from your customers. Whether through focus groups or short surveys, take the time to get meaningful feedback from your customers. Doing so can help you see if what you're doing is working or if you need to switch it up for a new approach.

Embracing Flexibility and Adaptation

Project management isn't a one-size-fits-all process. The PMO Maturity Study revealed that 92% of the top 10% of PMOs continuously adapted their processes for different projects and teams.

During a time when the pandemic has changed how we work and workplaces across the world are still managing the disruptions, it can feel like a lot to ask to look for ways to continue to be nimble. Still, PMOs that are taking this approach are seeing success.

Change is never easy, and it's okay to take a gradual approach to this, but it's always a great idea to find where you can fit goals and processes to your team's unique personalities and talents when possible.

Skill Development is Key for Project Managers

The PMO Maturity Study also revealed that 88% of the top 10% of PMOs continuously helped their project managers to develop personal skills. The way we work, process information, and collaborate is constantly changing, and routine training and development are almost becoming a necessity.

This approach by the top 10% of PMOs is intentional, as the study also revealed that 69% promote a continuous learning culture. As the process of project management continues to evolve, learning and development will continue to be key to companies striving to stay competitive — PMOs and their respective companies that make this a priority will win out.

You Don't Have to Be the Top Ten Percent to Bring About Change Right Now

It can feel overwhelming to change processes and move the strategic focus toward improvement. It isn't easy, but it can be done. The challenge is to remember that the process is gradual. Likely, the top 10% of PMOs in these studies didn't become that way overnight.

It took intention, time, and much forethought to get to that point. Fortunately, you don't have to address every hurdle at once. You can take your time and focus on the most pertinent issues now and then build on those later.

The stats above give you an idea of where to start, and from there, you can create an effective plan to move your PMO forward and facilitate the best processes for you and your teams.


Measuring What Matters,

Narrowing the Talent Gap,

PMO Maturity,