Project Management Offices Used to Full Extent Less Often

September, 2016

Use of the project management office (PMO) has been on a slow decline the last few years, but the number of organizations that make full use of the PMO for every project is declining much faster. According to our study, Project Management Office Adoption Trends, the number of companies making full use of PMOs has gone from one of the highest rated of all best practices to the middle of the pack. This could have a lot to do with the adoption of so-called “agile development” methods that are often perceived as at odds with traditional project governance methods.

Figure 1 from the full study shows that PMOs earns a moderate rating for practice level. This means that organizations that establish PMOs tend to make frequent but not entirely consistent use of the support, systems, and processes they provide. The maturity of this practice also earns a moderate rating, largely because of the decrease in practice level. The maturity rating is based on a combination of the practice rate, which has only declined slightly, and practice level.

PMOBestPrac Fig 1 - Project Management Offices Used to Full Extent Less Often

Meanwhile, the adoption of this practice appears to be stagnating at a moderate level.  While large organizations have widely embraced the use of PMOs, small organizations often lack the scale to do so. Companies that have not yet created PMOs are not likely to do so, at least in the near future, the study also finds. The ratings are based on comparisons with 33 other IT management practices in our IT Management Best Practices study.

“With fewer companies starting new PMOs and older companies making less use of them, the concept of the project management office is at a crossroads,” said David Wagner, vice president, research for Computer Economics of Irvine, Calif. “Agile and other development methods that emphasize speed and iteration might be creating the perception that the PMO is not necessary. However, there is no reason project management offices can’t adjust and assimilate agile processes. The next few years will clarify whether the PMO is still perceived as a necessary part of large enterprises.”

One of the advantages of having the PMO as a distinct group is that it provides focus. The PMO provides an environment where IT professionals who show promise as project managers are trained in the principles and techniques of project management. The PMO also selects project management tools such as project planning and scheduling systems so that they are available for rapid deployment when new projects are launched.

The full study examines the extent to which IT organizations have deployed PMOs and measures the level of engagement in the practice. We also look at how adoption of this IT management best practice differs by organization size and sector. In addition, the study provides recommendations for monitoring the success of the PMO.

This Research Byte is a brief overview of our report on this subject, Project Management Office Adoption Trends. The full report is available at no charge for Computer Economics clients, or it may be purchased by non-clients directly from our website (click for pricing).