Setting up and working in a PMO isn’t always smooth sailing, and it doesn’t take much to rock the boat. As project managers, we know how easy it is to miss warning signs in our PMO. To help you with this, we’ve compiled the most common red flags that indicate your PMO isn’t working as it should.

Here’s the top 5 PMO Red flags, and how you can rectify them.

1: Lack of tangible data

We all know that PMO member who suggests unrealistic ideas, and justifies them by their past experience. If you have a teammate who has confidence rather than evidence backing their proposals, that’s a red flag to address.

PMOs are a dynamic space that requires we to adapt to new situations, technology, and opportunities. As a result, we can’t solely rely on our past experience to validate decisions. Rather, we must refer to data, evaluations, and estimations- tangible data.

This becomes particularly important when there is a large amount of funds running through your team. You need tangible evidence to back your claims, and to ensure you reach the results expected. Oftentimes, the PMO is a stabiling force in organisations. Therefore, your projects and activities need to be based on data which ensures they are stable and reaching targets.

Now this doesn’t mean we should stop new ideas and experiments just because they don’t have any prior data. PMO leaders can validate new ideas by utilising the technology and estimation software we have access to. Tangible data is not reliant on past data. It can also be based off evidence from other organisations, or accurate estimates. Evidence has the foundations of data collection and effective application of the data you have.

Position your team to be a data-based and evidence-backed PMO.

2: Neglecting your strategic function

Is your PMO running on auto-pilot? Are they focused on collecting data and building reports, and less on being a strategic arm in the organisation?

A report by Forrester suggests that PMOs are becoming too busy to be truly strategic. The results of this survey showed 75% of PMOs were doing hands-on project management activities. Putting together reports and keeping projects on track is essential, but these efforts don’t contribute to the PMO’s strategic function. They won’t translate to effective long-term change and growth. So, your PMO might have to re-evaluate their tasks and workload.

What makes PMOs unique is their many abilities across different levels of the organisation. They are expected to coordinate business strategy across a spectrum of business activities. At the same time, they should identify opportunities and bring stakeholders on board. These roles propel the business to start meeting its full potential.

Always remember that a PMO is intrinsically strategic. That means, if PMO red flags around strategy appear, it’s detrimental to your team and other business activities.

3: Unclear goal, mission, and focus

Is your team always rushing into planning and executing new plans? It might look like your team is getting busy. However, there is a subtle difference between being busy and being productive.

Your PMO can be executing new and seemingly exciting things. If, however, there isn’t an underlying goal, the new activities won’t get you closer to genuine results.

Your PMO should be working closely together with C-Suite leaders to align themselves with the strategy driving the business forward. A PMO team that can confidently translate, communicate, and execute their strategy boosts the credibility of the PMO. In addition, it also keeps the PMO team constantly aware of their central focus.

You can check if your activities are aligned with strategy by questioning the ‘why’ behind every action and plan.

4: Your team is not adapting fast enough

Change is always scary. So, sometimes it can seem wise to stick to tried-and-trusty processes. However, avoiding change can be of the most dangerous red flags in your team.

A Gartner report suggest that by 2030, 80% of our current project management activities will be taken over by AI. However, advanced PMOs are embracing this change and intentionally putting themselves at the forefront. By preparing your PMO to take advantage of changing technologies, you are positioning yourselves competitively for the future.

There’s always new innovations, practices, and models popping up in the PMO space that can improve your PMO. If you start noticing your team is focusing on the inconveniences and dangers of new opportunities rather than their potential, you might need to address your team’s mentality.

5: Breakdown in Communication

We can’t emphasise enough that communication is one of the most essential soft skills for a PMO. Though it might seem obvious, not every PMO team communicates effectively.

Some PMOs fall into the trap of believing that weekly reports suffice for communication with stakeholders. Even though these reports may pass on relevant information, communication is more than an exchange of data. Instead, a communication is also about building trust.

Forrester’s report shows that only 58% of stakeholder believe information from their PMOs is realistic. For the PMO to be effective, there needs to be trust and investment in the PMOs activities and needs. Numbers alone aren’t going to get your strategy and vision to your stakeholders.

If you spot your team members not joining team meetings and not meeting up with other divisions, you might need to address those issues. PMOs should never be too busy to communicate, because the PMO manages people, not just numbers. People are your best asset, so make sure you’re investing time and effort to bring out the best from them.

Learn More PMO Best Practices!

To learn about how to improve your PMO, and become a more effective project manager, check out our blog. Reach out to our PPM experts if you are interested in how to choose a PPM solution for your organisation!

Laith Adel
Laith Adel