Saturday, May 20, 2006

Marketing Your PMO – Metrics

So, how well is the PMO doing? How much money are you saving the company? Have you created a Project Management culture? Are your projects more successful? Are they taking less time, more efficient, lest costly, higher quality…. Are you going nuts trying to figure out how you can prove your PMO is helping? Well Metric is certainly one way to communicate this.

The metrics a PMO Director may be concerned with fall into three broad categories. Project Metrics – these tell how well an individual project is doing, so things like EVA, risks, issues, those types of information would be collected and reported. Second there are Portfolio Metrics. This is a completely different topic, but corporate alignment, strategic goals and so forth would be covered here. Lastly, and most germane to this column are PMO Metrics. I’ve divided these into 5 categories based on the primary drivers. This is no firm, hard-and-fast categorization, but rather something that just helps me think about the purpose and type of metrics. The categories and some discussion are below:

The compliance driver I usually external to the organizations and can come in the form of laws, regulations or contract agreements. Probably the most prevalent and well-known compliance driver these days is the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. The basic premise behind compliance is to ensure that a certain minimum level is reached. If you have children, you know exactly what compliance is when you say – “clean your room” and do an inspection later to find that everything has been stuffed in the closet. For which you usually get the response “you didn’t tell me to clean the closet.” So, while I don’t advocate this method of compliance, the basic tenet is the same. Compliance Metrics then need to measure and communicate compliance.

First, you need to understand the compliance and non-compliance conditions. In many cases this is written somewhere, probably a contract or some other legal document, so get ready for some confusing reading. If you are lucky, said document may have information about how compliance/non-compliance will be determined. If it does, then those measures are exactly what you will use. In any case some determined investigation on your part will reveal the compliance goals.

From there, create a process to measure those goals and begin measuring. Create a contingency plan to bring you back into compliance should the metrics show you have slipped. The use of run-chart type measurements with control limits is well suited for compliance measurement. But remember, you are not looking to be “exceptional” or “superior” at compliance, this is a pass/fail game, so do not put more into this than is necessary to ensure that you are passing. Kind of like the PMP test right?


The drivers for consistency usually come from inside an organization. Often they come as directives or mandates from management. These can be as simple as “we need to be more consistent around here” to adoption of one of the more rigorous methodologies. Some of the better known methodologies are Capability Maturity Model in software development, Six Sigma, ISO, or OPM3. All of these methodologies have a foundation of consistency. It’s a simple concept; you can not improve what you are doing if you are always doing something different.

The first step then is to do the same work the same way every time, only then can you improve. Great, but how do you prove you are becoming “more” consistent, or that you have reached a level where you can say that you are consistent? If you are using one of the aforementioned methodologies, you are in luck as there is ample information and processes for you to use. If you are not, or as an addition, you can perform these measures yourself.

The key to consistency is adoption. You want to measure the adoption rate of the standards. Often this can be expressed in numbers or percentages. Numbers are good to show raw progress while percentages show the increases in terms of penetration. Since we are a PMO, we will be measuring how well Project Management is being adopted within an organization, so some measure here might be:

  • # or % of Projects with Project Charter (or plan, schedule, etc.)
  • # or % of Projects with an assigned Project Manager
  • # or % of Projects using standards
  • # or % of Departments using PMs in their projects
  • # or % of employees trained in Project Management

You get the idea – find out what your management means by “consistent” and start to measure that. Of course, by measuring you will improve adoption and hence consistency. No manager wants their VP to ask them why they are not using Project Managers in their projects when everyone else is. Conformance is a powerful motivator. The nice thing about these metrics is that they are binary, either you are doing this or you are not. Your job as PMO director is to capture the individual components, aggregate and report. Not too tough, but very powerful.

A warning here, like with all measurement, you risk becoming seen as the police. Don’t be a tattle tale; consistency is a great way to work with your peers to help them adopt Project Management. As you collect the numbers, you will notice that this or that department is a little behind or is using less than another. This is your golden opportunity. Go to that manager, show them the numbers (BEFORE YOU PUBLISH), explain how the numbers are derived and suggest ways to improve. Say something like: “If we were to assign Dan to these projects that would bring you up to 90% of your project with assigned PMs.” They may not be your biggest advocate, but no one wants to be at the lower end of the curve. Do not “enforce”, help, assist, find ways to make them successful.


tntequiv said...

Good Morning,
I am the Quality Manager for a large scale state government project. The agency Project Manager uses a contracted PMO to consult on using best PM practices for the PM and the project leads.

Regarding the metrics you posted. I have tasked the project leads / process owners with metrics and measures that I can roll up to the overarching program level. However, the one body that I have yet been able to determine metrics for is the PMO. Although they pass ownership of deliverables to the state, I have no means to determining how well they are actually doing, and that is something that I cannot have. How can I hold the state responsible, but not the contracted PMO consultant?

As such, I would be very intersted in hearing your perspective and recommended metrics, given your position as PMO Director. I look forward to your reply.

Shane Molinari, PMP

Derry Simmel said...


That is a little complicated - If you would like to trade some emails about the topic, you can reach me at - the main question I have is- what is the PMO doing? There are a lot of different expectations for a PMO, so knowing what you expect of them - or what you hired them for is the first step in determining how to measure their performance. I look forward to hearing from you.