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10 Signs Your PMO is Trying to Fly “Alternative Facts”

Project Management Professionals and Microsoft-certified individuals are committed to the quality and continuity of a project’s process and progress. While we must salute their passionate tenacity during the most complex challenges, we must also acknowledge that the health of any project may well be determined by the enthusiasm (or lack thereof) from supervisory or executive echelons.

To help you translate what you’re experiencing, here are my top 10 signs that your project is in deep trouble:

  1. Senior managers are “rotated” or “reassigned” before project completion.
  2. Project management offices are directed to and then cease weekly status metrics because they have become “distractions” to the executive staff.
  3. Departments institute different project management tools because they believe the “tool” is not working “correctly.”
  4. Project failures are credited to project managers who were never assigned to the failed project.
  5. Project plans are abandoned “because they take up too much time” during the weekly meetings.
  6. Senior managers report their own status or claim ownership when they edit the weekly project status rather than allow the status tool to report dynamically.
  7. Projects expand with the addition of “unplanned phases” that were never part of their planning or requirements while resources report and document work time to “non-project” activities.
  8. Senior management or immediate subordinates refuse to use standard scheduling metrics on projects because they believe it has “no purpose” and question the “accuracy” of the weekly status due to a “language” issue.
  9. Project teams no longer use PMPs or Microsoft Certified Technology Specialists since senior executives have decided to rely on nepotism over qualifications.
  10. Companies invest substantial amounts reinventing the project management methodology and then rename it rather than use the proven industry-standard Project Management Book of Knowledge.

Next time, we look at coping opportunities.

Have your own signs that a PMO is trying to fly alternative facts? Share it with the MPUG community in the comments below.

Edward W. Rosenthal, MPM, PMP, MCTS and Senior Consultant at RMS, has deployed PMO tools for Fortune 100 food and beverage corporations, industrial electronic companies and aerospace agencies in the greater Chicago and Washington, D.C. areas. Additionally, he has initiated the implementation of enterprise project management to aid in an ambitious (and successful) $400 million SAP rollout. Ed has been recognized with several industry awards and has presented at both PMI and Microsoft Project Management conferences. He has been a founding member and Past President Chicago chapter of MPUG since 1999. Connect with him through LinkedIn here.

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  1. Loved this! So accurate

  2. I have seen all of those behaviors in PMOs, with the possible exception of item 9. I worked with one company implementing an EPM system (not Project Server) where the PMO constantly drew attention to the extensive set of requirements they had developed in order to obtain the best EPM system available. This was after two other EPM systems (none of them Project Server) were started and abandoned. We had to take a pause during some contract issues and that gave me time to more deeply research the product. Deep in the vendors web, I found a very familiar looking “Statement of Capabilities” document and determined it to be the source of the requirements document, stripped of vendor markings of course.

    The tool did not perform as advertised and even after some significant custom development would not meet the requirements (vendors or client) so I wrote a 7 page memo suggesting that the project be cancelled.

    Several years later, that same PMO contacted me and asked if I would implement Project Server for them. A few days later, the entire PMO was laid off, when, after 5 or 6 years of activity, the company wasn’t able to determine what they did.

  3. What an amazing story, Mark!

  4. The “Value Driven” approach is more successful today when talking about dollars saved. It is not a guarantee, but works when management can understand the math! Yes, the tools were not easy to install. There are all kinds of excuses. However, the tools are now more focus on the business and the end user instead of a huge database speaking different languages. Training too is important, but new tools should not take weeks to learn. There is a huge payoff when using the standard project management requirements!

  5. Thank you for publishing this. I’ve seen all of these and more and continue to be proud of the efforts of the few who remain focused on fact over fiction and progress over politics. The easier it becomes to recognize institutional myopia, the easier it will become to sharpen our eyesight and achieve the vision of project success.


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