4 Qualities All Successful PMOs Have Mastered

Project scope and complexity grows with each passing day. Unlike traditional projects, today’s project management offices (PMOs) face an exponential list of responsibilities, and many projects are small portions of whole project portfolios and programs. Unfortunately, successful portfolio management requires more than hard-copy skills.

In fact, a successful project office needs to operate with strong organizational skills and goals in mind. Portfolio and project management relies on strong leadership more than anything else. But, an overwhelming majority of project offices continue to fall short in key areas, like organizational maturity and alignment with business and strategic goals. To help your office achieve lasting and expanding success, master these key qualities below. 

Six Key Drivers for Successful Project Management

Strong Leadership Is Top-Priority Among Modern Businesses.

Strong leadership sets the tone for a project office. The project office must have an organized chain of command, the project or portfolio manager should have strong leadership characteristics. In fact, this ebook highlights how much modern companies value strong leaders; 92 percent of companies cite sound leadership as essential to successful recovery from project challenges. But, what does a strong leader truly bring to the project?

Strong leaders clearly understand a project’s goals and how they relate to the big picture. For example, consider the following questions:

  • Does the project provide a benefit to the public?
  • Will the project surpass goals and bring a positive return on investment?
  • Why is the project needed, and why is deadline X necessary?

These questions might be difficult for project management professionals to define, but they are the cornerstone of a project’s success and feasibility. Understanding the answers to these questions helps PMOs identify problems and opportunities, enhancing risk management and mitigation. Moreover, the data points gathered throughout the office can impact each question’s future.

For example, if John Doe, a welder working on Phase I of a construction project’s foundation, falls behind on schedule, how will that impact the big picture? In a worst-case scenario, the project proceeds, but lost attention to detail results in quality problems with the foundation. Thus, the future of the project is undermined. Meanwhile, all subsequent activities are delayed, increasing the risk for missed deadlines and withdrawal of executive-level support.

The only way to ensure the project’s success lies in agility and making appropriate adjustments to changes and challenges during a project, as seen in this blog post. While strong leadership skills can help a project manager succeed, they also benefit the project team.

The project manager is only able to handle a project to the limitations of his or her team. Therefore, the team itself, the PMO, must reach a higher level of maturity and skill as well.

Organizational Maturity Determines Success.

If a project manager lacks a knowledgeable, proactive team, he or she will fail. In addition, a team lacking support from the project manager will fail. If neither party knows how to respond to crises, the project will fail.

This is a nightmare in project management, but it can change.

A PMO’s organization maturity depends on the skills and experience of its members. This would appear to indicate experience determines organizational maturity. But, that is not the only factor. Higher organizational maturity is linked to improved performance. Therefore, the reverse, improving performance to build organizational maturity, holds true as well.

Education and training help build organizational maturity. If all team members participate in routine, frequent training, they will grow more effective. In turn, their ability to provide a service to the office grows.

For new or upcoming project office team members, training is key. But, new project offices can grow by leveraging staff members with proven records of success.

In other words, the office should incorporate team members that have worked on like projects with success. And, these same members can help train other team members on proper protocols and best practices. Thus, the organizational maturity grows through internal channels, such as in-office training, and external channels, such as training courses. Moreover, the return on investment grows as well.

Align Business Priorities With Goals.

Successful PMOs understand the value of alignment. Stakeholders’ goals must align with the goals of the project office. In turn, the office’s business priorities and strategy must align with the company’s overall business mission.

The rationale behind alignment is simple; it ensures all parties understand how their roles and duties will impact the company. Since the company is built on providing a service or product to an ultimate end-user, this alignment builds on competitive advantage. Furthermore, alignment improves the odds of success by keeping all parties interested and vested in the project. This alignment is one of the top factors driving project success.

For example, stakeholders are more likely to continue financial support if their goals mirror the project office’s goals.

It is all about creating and maintaining a win-win situation.

Visibility Is Key to Making the Right Decisions.

Visibility is among the top buzzwords in project management. It takes the “guess-work” out of project management by using data to back claims and identify issues. Yet, visibility is about more than just holding meetings with a printed agenda, asserts a previous blog post.

While documentation improves visibility, you need to know how your decisions impact the variables in a project. This is beyond a quick “it’ll go faster” approach. How many minutes are saved? Will the costs change? What are the risks if you do not take this action and their costs?

The only way to attain true visibility relies on tracking the details and key performance indicators (KPIs) that impact your project. With the growing scope of today’s projects, you need real-time data, not historic averages. This creates a proactive environment and set of processes for effective, successful project management. Thus, more offices are turning to project portfolio management (PPM) dashboards to increase visibility.

Master These Qualities by Learning More About Successful PMOs.

Knowing how to navigate project management software systems is not enough to be a successful project office. But, you can rise to the occasion by learning these success-defining traits and characteristics. Download our eBook “Six Key Drivers of Successful Project Management” to make the following qualities core concepts in your team meetings and everyday activities now:

  • Be a strong leader, and lead by example.
  • Hold all team members accountable for organizational maturity.
  • Align business priorities with strategic and organizational goals.
  • Make data-driven decisions, and strive toward 100-percent visibility.

What qualities do you think makes a PMO successful? Let us know in the comments below!