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Do executives think your project management office adds value? Don't delay in finding out.

Caught up in the day-to-day responsibilities of working in a project management office (PMO), directors can easily overlook the telltale signs of company dissatisfaction.

Comments from stakeholders may range from mildly negative (“You create too much reporting overhead” and “I don't know what you do”) to harshly critical (“just a mailbox” and “paralysis by analysis”). This type of feedback should raise eyebrows—and prompt action from the PMO to rectify its standing in the organization.

First, perform yearly PMO health checks to determine if it is adding value. One of the most effective ways to garner feedback about the PMO‘s performance is to conduct interview sessions with senior executives in the organization. The main question to ask is: “Do you think the PMO is relevant to your needs or adds value in your area?” Then, sit back and take notes.

Usually the responses can be pooled into three distinct areas: “not adding value,” “indifferent” and “adding value.” A pictorial scale, such as the one below, helps plot the responses:

img The scale not only helps explore the reasons for dissatisfaction, but also identifies corrective measures.


When devising corrective measures, start with the indifferent stakeholders. It's easier to change the opinions of fence-sitters because they are not adamantly against the PMO. By meeting their expectations first, you'll create more allies.

Review your notes from the executive interviews. This is your guide to any issues the PMO needs to address. Often, the best course of action is to provide more training and coaching to your project managers specifically targeting those issues. Then, after the first training session, follow up with executives to let them know the wheels of change are turning.

For those in the “not adding value” category, the above measure may or may not change perceptions. More fundamentally, the PMO director should sit down with the most concerned parties and agree to a common work charter that lists specific activities the PMO will perform. Evaluations should occur at regular intervals to avoid nasty surprises at the end of the work.

Do not confuse the work charter with the PMO charter. The former is related to a specific department for a limited duration; the latter applies to the whole organization and lasts as long as the PMO is in existence.

Failure to conduct regular PMO reviews may result in a situation where the office is perceived as irrelevant by a wide segment of the organization. Such a circumstance could shelve a PMO. Conversely, engaging in frequent reviews helps detect problems early in the PMO life cycle and keeps any dissatisfaction to a minimum. PM



Abid Mustafa is a director of corporate programs for du Telecom, a telecom operator and PMI Global Executive Council member in the United Arab Emirates. He is the author of In the Age of Turbulence: How to Make Executive PMOs Successful, available in paperback and on Kindle.




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