Biggest Challenges for PMOs Today

Last week, PMO Flashmob held a webinar to celebrate International Project Management Day. The session was called “Top Ten Things PMO People are Talking About Today”, you can watch the session yourself over on the website.

As part of the webinar there were over 100 responses to the question – what top challenge does your PMO face today?

Instead of sharing those insights as a simple Word Cloud – which doesn’t really cut the mustard when there are multiple words in an answer to such a question – the information was shared in a treemap (below)

PMO Challenges
Click to enlarge


Treemapping if you’re unfamiliar with them is explained here. And a free tool is available for you to try out yourself if you think it would be useful within your PMO data/ information visualisation toolkit.

Biggest Challenge Areas for PMOs Today

As you can see from the treemap above, it gives you a good idea about what those challenge areas are.

Let’s take a closer look and see what these areas were all about.

Executive Buy In

Executive sponsorship for the PMO itself was mentioned a few times – that’s Principle 1! – about the senior leadership taking more ownership for the PMO (if that’s the right word here). One specific response probably sums it up, “Getting senior executive’s to understand pm processes and the value a PMO can add to an organisation”.

That word – value – pops up a lot, but that’s not the next biggest challenge area for PMOs today. Tools are.


Tools included anything related to automation in any way within the PMO today, that included:

  • Providing guidance & tools comprehensive enough to be useful to beginners and generic enough to be adaptable to different projects and programmes
  • Portfolio planning
  • Resource management and planning
  • Siloed approach to project information storage and gathering
  • Manual Status Reports (time-consuming)
  • Status reporting and getting away from the ‘admin’ stuff
  • Carving up the programme budget into project budgets
  • Implementing an organized PM flow.


We know it’s one of the hot topics at the moment but what exactly are the challenges the PMO are facing with Agile?

It ranges from the basic – just trying to understand what Agile is – and how the organisation want to incorporate it as part of their programme and project delivery. Then there is the question of how the PMO should work within an Agile environment and organisation.The next steps about the ins and outs of what the PMO actually does in an Agile environment also features.

Resource Management

It’s the one function or service that seems to get singled out more than any others (the second most popular one is governance). It’s about resource management at all levels – project, programme and portfolio. PMO Learning recently carry out a bespoke workshop for a client in resource management for people working within their PMO. It looks like more of them will be scheduled in the future as resource management consistently presents pains for the PMO.

Showing Value

There were a fair view value perception problems with PMOs – the senior executives not getting it – the project managers not getting it. One view, “Insufficient funds and emphasis put into PMO to enable excellent value add”.  Articulated as “showing value” and “selling the value” and “value-add” – they all show that some PMOs may have to look at the Business Driven PMO virtues from Mark Price Perry for inspiration for overcoming this challenge.

And the Rest

Here’s a selection of some of the other challenges:

  • Communicating to Project Managers in order for them to see the benefit of running standardised processes and procedures
  • Establishing methodology and practices in a department unfamiliar with project management.
  • Connecting strategy to PMO objectives and goals.
  • C Suite understanding potential of an enterprise level PMO
  • Retention staff in the PMO who actually have ambitions to be a Project Manager.
  • Executing projects within the acceptable project methodologies.
  • PMO call to action – to address challenges effecting PM work – increased complexity and disruptive technologies etc

Can you spot similar challenges to the ones you’re experiencing right now? Why not let us know in the comments below

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