“So, how’s the PMO doing?” My ears pricked up. The conversation was taking place on the bank of desks in front of me.
“Which one,” asked the PMO Manager.
“The team, the PMO team?” clarified the Head of Transformation. I would normally be ashamed to admit to this bit of eavesdropping, but this particular PMO Manager had banned the team from listening to music as we work and remove headphones so we can – and I quote – “listen and learn.” So I was listening, but not really learning much. And neither was the Head.
“Ah, right, yeah, they’re busy. They’re pretty much at capacity.” Hmmm, I thought, a bit of a non-answer. Will it satisfy the Head? Didn’t seem so, she was just looking blankly at him. “And, I think that morale has improved.”
The Head wasn’t satisfied and asked for a meeting the following day to discuss. After the meeting I caught him as he was heading out to lunch and – being nosy – asked how it had gone.
“Yeah, went alright. Told her the teams doing better, everyone’s stacked.” Then he tacked on the end, “Told her you’re doing well.” He smiled reassuringly. Whilst I appreciated the statement – whether he was telling me the truth or not – I was a little worried about what he hadn’t said, and I’m sure this would have troubled the Head too.
Ask a Project Manager how the project is doing, they won’t often go straight for discussing how they are at capacity – unless they’re struggling and need help. And they certainly won’t feedback with bland statements about morale. They’ll likely be talking about milestones, issues, costs, benefits, etc. And you know what they all have in common? They are measureable.
So if we inhabit the same world as these PMs, support them, challenge them, train them, etc, isn’t it reasonable that we should be able to communicate about our performance in much the same way as they do. But once again we arrive at the fundamental challenge to getting the most out of PMOs – not many people understand the real work we are capable of doing, do not understand the value we can add, so have absolutely no chance of defining and measuring it.
So, my advice to the PMO Managers is this: next time you get asked by your boss about how the team is doing, consider starting with KPIs such as reduced time to market, improvements in successful project delivery, improved compliance and governance, alignment to strategy, cost savings, customer satisfaction (yes, this includes internal customers – they have feelings too), before getting onto how we’re all busy (resource utilisation) and telling the boss how we’re a big happy team (staff satisfaction score – which is reduced since you banned us from listening to music as we work!!). However, I know this sounds like a lot of effort and you may have better things to do. I’d be curious to learn what you think those things are…