What PMOs should do – but don’t!

Blog 08-04-2021
In previous blogs, I have talked about the need for PMOs to become value-adding PMOs instead of the admin, box-ticking PMOs that are so often are present in organisations.

David Walton

I think you know the admin-obsessed PMOs whose main job seems to be producing reports and chasing missing timesheets. While these activities need to be done they do not, in my opinion, represent real value-add.

Projects are all about change and every organisation needs to ensure that change is implemented effectively, but more importantly, the level of change is at the pace that people can absorb.

We all know that no one likes change, but it is less clear to management, that there is only so much change that people can absorb in a given time. If this threshold of change is exceeded then 2 things happen.

  1. The change – often caused by a new project – is not effectively implemented, causing money to be lost or wasted;
  2. People get fed up with too much change and, either become less cooperative in the workplace or vote with their feet.

We recently worked with a leading restaurant chain and found that no one at the centre had a holistic view of all the changes that were being ‘inflicted’ on staff in their restaurants. Changes from the Centre came from many departments including Marketing, Property, Operations, etc. The result was that changes were either not implemented well or not at all and the level of staff turnover was nearing70%.

The PMO, which sat at the centre of Operations, was asked by senior management to monitor the level of change at restaurants. They implemented our PPM tool, PM3, which was able to measure the change impact of each activity and project. But more importantly, PM3 was able to add-up all the change activities at each site and then run brand and regional reports showing the level of change including the time taken by staff to absorb these changes.

Senior Management was genuinely shocked by how much change was being directed at their sites. The PMO was instrumental in identifying areas where the level of change was greater than the rate that staff could absorb.

Monitoring the level of change is valuable not just for restaurants and stores, but also for head office departments, e.g. marketing, finance operations, etc. Head office staff also have a threshold for change.

How many PMOs monitor the level of change being demanded of an organisation’s people?

My guess is very few. If they did do this, however, and had the tools to do so, they would, in my opinion, raise their game and move their PMO into the category of value-adding.

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