PMOs in Singapore fall short on ROI measurement and customer focus

Because project management has become integral across all industries and sectors, the project management office (PMO) plays a vital role in offering strategic, tactical or operational guidance in day-to-day business through its involvement in project and programme delivery.

To share the latest PMO trends, ESI International, a project management training company, has announced the key findings of its annual Global State of the PMO study, and a cross-section of the survey that was conducted within the project management office (PMO) sector in Singapore with 192 professionals holding project management and related roles.

Among the 192 project management professionals surveyed in Singapore, 72 percent said they have an active PMO in their organisations, and 60 per cent said their PMOs have existed between 1 and 5 years.

When asked whether the value, role or function of their PMOs have been formally challenged within the organisation, 57 percent of Singaporeans said no, as compared with 52 per cent for the global mean. Of those challenged, 81 per cent said that the PMO’s value has been challenged by senior management, while 45 per cent of those surveyed said that the customer and product owner have questioned the value of the PMO.

More than half of (67 percent) Singapore’s respondents claimed their PMOs have been credited for better and more effective monitoring, measurement and reporting of project management data, leading to greater visibility at both executive and portfolio levels. Only 54 per cent said their PMOs have been responsible for improving the training and development of project-related staff.

With regard to the provisioning of “hard skills” for project management training, only 34 percent of those surveyed said their PMOs provide such direct training, as compared with the global mean of 50 per cent.

The study also revealed that only 7 percent of PMO-managed staff said their PMOs use the return on investment (ROI) method to measure the impact of training. Most respondents cited “immediate post-training feedback forms” (71 per cent) and “follow-up evaluation” (64 per cent) as the two most common methods employed by their PMOs in measuring learning impact. The findings indicate a lack of the use of advanced training measurement methodologies among PMOs in Singapore.

When it comes to PMOs’ involvement in helping project managers practice, master and sustain the skills they have learned through training, only 23 percent said their PMOs provide practical assignments to test the newly acquired skills. Most respondents (69 per cent) cited that their PMOs were mostly involved through follow-up discussions and action planning after the learning event.

Meanwhile, majority of the respondents (80 percent) said they use “on-time and within-budget project delivery” as a benchmark to communicate and report on PMO effectiveness. Only 33 percent factor in customer satisfaction as a benchmark for PMO effectiveness in Singapore, as compared with the global mean of 52 percent.

“While PMOs have been in existence for some time, it hasn’t been since the last 10 years that the PMO has taken on a specific governance structure to align project delivery with stakeholders’ needs,” said Raed S. Haddad, Managing Director for Asia Pacific, ESI International. “In Singapore, there is more to be done when it comes to communicating the value of the PMO to senior management. PMOs here should start incorporating customer satisfaction as a key success benchmark to validate their value to both internal and external stakeholders.”