How to stop your PMO failing

How to stop your PMO failing

The last post, Indicators that a PMO is Failing, covered themes to watch out for that your PMO may be starting to fail.  This post will provide some thoughts on the actions you can take to stop your PMO failing.

Be Alert

The most important thing you can do is always be alert.  You need to know as soon early as possible if there are concerns about your PMO.  Knowing early will give you the best chance to take action to remediate.  Encourage your team to be alert to signs.

Treat every interaction as an opportunity to gauge the health of the PMO.  Listen carefully to both what is being said and the tone.  The non-verbal signs can also be revealing.

Ask Questions / For Feedback

Many leading organisations regularly ask for feedback from their customers.  They want to do this so that can understand what is working and, more importantly, what is not so that they can adjust.  This feedback loop is very important as if you know where your customers are not happy, you can make targeted changes.

The same applies to the service provided by a PMO.  Do not be afraid to seek feedback from your different stakeholders.  When reviewing MI reports with stakeholders, at the end ask if the report provides the correct information, if it is the right level, what enhancements would make it more useful.  Doing this will allow you to get direct feedback and adapt.  The feedback principle should be applied to how the team engages, responsiveness, service, etc.  The aim is to find out what is working, what is not and then take steps to improve.

Word of caution.  It is important not to completely rely on being told.  A pro-active PMO should also be looking to develop their own ideas on areas to improve.  Combining feedback with your own ideas is a powerful combination.


If you are running a PMO, you should have a clear understanding of what you need to achieve.  However, just because you have a clear plan of what PMO services will be implemented, do not assume that others outside of the PMO know.  This is where a “roadmap” for the PMO will help.  Take some time to map out the plan for rolling out the PMO services and capture into a simple one page plan.  The aim is to do this in a way that makes it easy for people to quickly understand.

When you have the your PMO roadmap, make sure that your team understand the plan.  This will help ensure that all members of the team are delivering a consistent message on the future plans.  Then take the time to communicate the roadmap with stakeholders and management.  This will demonstrate to them that there is a plan so, just because the PMO is not providing a certain service, the roadmap clearly demonstrates that it has been thought about and when it will be available.  Managing expectations is so important.

Take a look at the post about implementing a PMO to meet a sponsors requirements.

Team Meetings / 1:1′s

Use regular meetings as an opportunity to share insights across the team.  While individual interactions may appear to be innocent.  When the information is shared across the team, together trends can appear that are cause for concern.  This links very closely with the first point, “being alert”.

In summary

Being alert to signs of failure is no different to managing another risk or issue for a project or programme.  You must actively monitor for signs and then take corrective action early.  Do not be afraid to ask for feedback, especially if you know it will not be good.  Understanding concerns and addressing early can make the difference between PMO success or failure.