5 Secret Killers of Your IT PMO: Part 2

August 16, 2017 Marcus Varner

In a recent webinar, project management experts Naomi Caietti, director and managing editor at Naomi Caietti Consulting, and Nick Scholz, solutions marketing manager at Workfront, shared five secret IT PMO killers and tips for overcoming them. What follows is the second in a three-part recap of the webinar. You can see part one here. If you want to watch the entire webinar on demand, click here.


Nick Scholz: As you’re putting together a plan, the reason that we’re talking about these two things together is because putting together a plan for how your PMO is going to move forward means that you need to avoid the things that are going to instantly go in and undermine what you’re trying to achieve.

With that in mind, as we look at the news that Naomi has delivered, both good and bad, we see that there are a lot of challenges that PMOs are facing. We also see that there are a lot of successes out there.


Watch our on-demand webinar "Optimise PMO Performance with Intelligent Resource Management" for Peter Taylor's (AKA “The Lazy Project Manager”) tips for effectively managing resources.


And the clear message that I get is that our PMO professionals know exactly what they’re doing; they’re competent and they’re strong.

But, speaking to her point about why the PMOs are failing, it’s because the process that they have been given was not built for the speed and complexity of today’s work.

One quick example, before we dive in, is that more than $250 billion a year is spent on IT projects. Sixty-two percent of them are delivered late, 49 percent of them are over budget.

That means that there is something broken in the process—if our professionals know what they’re doing—that the process must be part of the weakness. That’s where these five killers come in.

So to begin, we’ll talk about killer number one: constant status inquiries.

I doubt there’s anyone in this audience who doesn’t understand what we’re talking about when we talk about constant status inquiries coming in. It’s a mountain of meetings, it’s drive-by discussions, it’s sticky notes. And just like any killer, it’s got particular weapons in mind.

Ask some of these questions when you’re thinking about whether you’re being stalked by a particular killer of your PMO. Things like, "When your boss asks for a status update on all your projects, how are you finding all the information?" 

"Do you have to manually find information from each team member and hunt them down?" "Do you have to log into multiple tools to access status updates?" And, "Are you required to present data in different formats for every stakeholder?"

These kinds of time sucks really add up quickly.

And the losses mount quickly as well. This is just one example. This is for status meetings.

Now, all of our calculations generally are based around a 30-person team. We blended the rate of everybody down to about $70.00 an hour, which is right there in the middle.

This is the average yearly cost of status meetings. That’s a half a million dollars just on status meetings that didn’t need to happen if you were able to keep ahead of what the stakeholders needed.

Killer number two: poor or no visibility into your team’s workload. This is the death by 1,000 sticky notes.

Now, just like the last one, this has particular weapons in mind.

"How do you help team members know what to work on?" "When a new request comes in, how do you know who to assign it to?" "Have you or a team member experienced burnout because of their workload?"

Burnout is a huge deal. And this is just like Naomi was talking about; this is a problem now across the enterprise. This isn’t just a PMO problem, because a PMO is part of everything.

And so if you’re having a problem with burnout, that means your PMO is possibly on a path to where they just can’t find success, because there should be a balance for people. 

And then last: "Do you have to log into multiple tools or individually inquire to assess availability from people?" That takes way too much time.

A lack of understanding of a team’s current workload and capacity is reported as the second biggest challenge in the project management process.

This is a survey that Workfront actually did recently. Eighty percent of surveyed companies use spreadsheets to manage their work, and a third of them use a mix of email and spreadsheets, with email being totally siloed away.

So any information that happens in a thread stays in a thread. Eighty-eight percent of spreadsheets are reported to have errors. That’s not too inspiring.

Workers are spending up to two and a half hours per day just in searching for and gathering information for projects and work. That’s just too much time. Here the losses build up, too.

The yearly cost of late projects, you can see there, is $100,000. It’s just too much. And email, this one is a big hitter.

Email can be such a valuable tool for communication, but when it turns into a silo where all the work is conducted and too much time is taken to find any information that you need, especially about your status, our calculations put that cost, just for a 30-person team, at over $2 million.

That is a lot of money and a lot of wasted time, just to be able to get the information that you need to make true, real-time decisions about where your group and your business need to go.

The third killer: multiple disconnected tools. Once again, I doubt anyone in our audience wonders about what we’re talking about here.

The weapons: "How many different tools do you and your team use to manage work and projects?" Probably a lot, and I’ll get into that in a minute.

"Do the tools you use integrate with one another?" "How much time do you spend building reports from data that’s housed across multiple tools?" "Do you struggle with tool adoption from your team?" Most do. "What’s your current process for approvals?"

The average worker is using 13 different tools or methods to manage time and work. Fifty-nine percent of project management middle managers agree that they miss important data every single day because information is so hard to find.

Project managers report their biggest challenge—the number-one—is information spread across too many disconnected tools.

Too many tools means too much time; means project managers who, instead of using their great expertise in bringing their projects to completion, are spending their time digging through who knows how many tools just to find the stuff they need to get status reports, let alone do their jobs.

And the cost stat up here, this is just one component of the too many disconnected tools. Building reports, on average, is costing $134,000 for a PMO organization.

Add that on top of all of the costs that we’ve had before, if you see any of these other killers in your organization, and the costs are really beginning to add up.


To watch the entire "5 Secret Killers of Your IT PMO" webinar on demand, featuring Naomi Caietti and Nick Scholz, click here.

About the Author

Marcus Varner

Marcus is a content strategist and producer who loves helping brands craft content that improves customers' lives, builds brand credibility, and demands to be shared. For the last 10 years, Marcus has worked in every type of content—from writing to video production to design—and is currently a senior content marketing manager at Workfront, where he oversees all corporate- and awareness-level level content. When he's not producing content, he's consuming it, in the form of books, movies, and podcasts.

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5 Secret Killers of Your IT PMO: Part 3
5 Secret Killers of Your IT PMO: Part 3

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