Are traditional measures of success hindering the PMO?

Why your PMO still gets rated three out of five stars.

Our recent PMI and PwC Global Survey on Transformation and Project Management suggests that the problem lies in the way that PMOs measure success and demonstrate value. The leading PMOs understand both the impact of a program on the business and the value added. But because this isn't measured, it’s rarely spoken of, and time, scope and budget don’t tell a story powerful enough to support the value conversation.

The problem with using these metrics to demonstrate success is that they are considered table stakes. Project sponsors take delivery to time, scope and budget as a given – or worse, believe that they could manage projects that hit these metrics without the need for a designated PMO function.

If your PMOs want to hit that five-star score, you need to reimagine your measures of success and start telling the story about your value add differently.

Everybody measures what is easy to measure. Measuring progress to your plan, or your spend, that’s easy. A step in the right direction would be to start measuring the benefits that are critical for success, but more difficult to track.

Ruth Murray-Webster Director, Potentiality UK and Associate Fellow at the University of Oxford Saïd Business School

Benefits realization plan

Across our interviews, there was agreement that formalizing measurement is desired, but that there is no single view on how to measure success. Businesses, PMOs and projects are unique, and part of the challenge is that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to measurement.

Today’s high performing PMOs need to speak the language of their organization when articulating their value – this itself is a benefit to any organization. Developing metrics and data that ‘hit home’ with senior leadership is a key part of this piece.

At the outset of each project or transformation, PMOs should define the best measures that will allow them to monitor and demonstrate project performance, and its impact on delivering and supporting business strategy. Once you determine which benefits and outcomes you want to achieve, development of a benefits realization plan is prudent and should contain:

Key assumptions, and necessary changes and tasks to achieve the intended outcomes/benefits

Key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics to measure progress

Roles and responsibilities required to realize expected outcomes/benefits

Articulation of benefits to the business decision makers

Continuous evaluation of desired outcomes

Successful PMOs are the ones that, on top of delivering projects and managing the portfolio, are able to articulate that value to leadership in a way that resonates with what’s going on in the organization.

Olivia Koh Program and Portfolio Office at Cisco

There’s the tried and true metrics of scope, schedule and budget, but beyond that I think customer satisfaction and a net promoter score goes a long way. Because if you’ve fostered bad relationships with your business counterparts in attaining those goals - then I wouldn’t necessarily deem that project successful.

Angelina Essuman Chief of Staff and Director, Office of the CIO at Southwest Airlines

Measuring ongoing performance gives a clear view of what’s working, and where further attention and investment is needed. It’s impossible to fix issues without being able to spot them in the first place, and while organizations might believe they can hit scope, schedule and budget without a PMO, doing this at scale – via a large, complex project, or when balancing many interdependent initiatives – is much more difficult. It requires a holistic view that ongoing measurement supports.

Contact us

Jennifer Duignan

Jennifer Duignan

Principal, PMO Managed Services, PwC US

Jason Hoye

Jason Hoye

Director, PMO Managed Services, PwC US

Follow us

Required fields are marked with an asterisk(*)

By submitting your email address, you acknowledge that you have read the Privacy Statement and that you consent to our processing data in accordance with the Privacy Statement (including international transfers). If you change your mind at any time about wishing to receive the information from us, you can send us an email message using the Contact Us page.