The link between PMO success and executive support revisited
As discussed in a previous blog post, to be successful, most PMOs must have the authority and empowerment that results from support and alignment with key business and IT leadership (See “PMO Critical Success Factors: 6 Alignment Dimensions”, Tuesday, Sep 13, 2011). But, there are exceptions to the rule that success or failure may be pre-determined by your host organization and that you can do everything right but be doomed to failure if you don't have the right level of sponsorship from the start (See “Can your PMO Succeed without Executive-Level Support?”, Friday, Sep 30, 2011).
In a recent Webinar entitled the Ultimate Guide to Business-Driven PMO Success” we polled the audience of well over 200 participants to get some hard data on the correlation between level of PMO success and level of executive support. We wanted to confirm our hunch that the correlation was indeed very strong and that exceptions to the rule were in fact extremely rare. Is that what we found? Well it depends on what your definition of "strong" and "rare" is.
The specific question we asked was: If you currently have a reasonably well established PMO in place, which option most closely describes your situation in terms of powerbase alignment and level of success? The answer choices were:
A: Our PMO has a fairly strong or high level of executive support and, in general, is being perceived by our key stakeholders to be meeting expectations.
B: Our PMO has a fairly low or moderate level of executive support and, in general, is being perceived by our key stakeholders to be meeting expectations.
C: Our PMO has a fairly strong or high level of executive support and, in general, is NOT being perceived by our key stakeholders to be meeting expectations.
D: Our PMO has a fairly low or moderate level of executive support and, in general, is NOT being perceived by our key stakeholders to be meeting expectations.
Here are the results:
So, for 50% of PMOs, their perceived level of success is in alignment with their perceived level of executive support. Roughly 60% of this group is succeeding and enjoys a high level of executive support and about 40% of this group is not succeeding and they have at best a moderate level of executive support.
On the surface at least, the surprise here is that a healthy 31% of PMOs are being successful without a high level of leadership support. However, this could be explained by the fact that 58% of respondents viewed their PMO as tactically, rather than strategically focused, based on a separate poll question posed to this very same audience (see: "Poll results show PMOs getting more strategic", April 16, 2012). For PMOs that aspire to have a strategic impact on the business, the percentage of PMOs that views themselves to successful is likely to be significantly smaller using that lens.
The 19% of PMOs that are not meeting expectations and have a high level of executive support serves as a reminder that executive support is no guarantee of success.
At any rate, these are my observations and conclusions based on this high level data. What do you take away from this data?