PMOs come in a variety of models – they pretty much never get it right!

Too controlling. Reactive. Bureaucratic, Slow. No value add.

How does a PMO know what’s working and what isn’t? How does it get better and better over time?

The simple answer is using an intentional method to define and measure PMO maturity. Here’s a high-level guide to get you started.

A maturity model serves as a roadmap for organisational growth in project management. It charts the progression from basic, ad hoc processes to advanced, optimised operations. This evolutionary path is essential for enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of a PMO.

Why it matters for successful program delivery

  • Enhanced Planning and Control: As a PMO matures, its ability to plan and control projects improves dramatically. With refined processes, project managers can accurately estimate timelines and budgets, significantly increasing the likelihood of on-time and within-budget delivery.
  • Quality Focus: Higher maturity levels correlate with a stronger emphasis on quality. Mature PMOs have processes that ensure quality standards are met consistently, reducing the risk of project failures and the need for costly rework.
  • Risk Mitigation: Mature PMOs are adept at identifying, assessing, and mitigating risks. This proactive approach to risk management is crucial in avoiding delays and budget overruns, ensuring projects adhere to their planned scope, schedule, and cost.
  • Resource Optimisation: Maturity brings about effective resource management. By efficiently allocating and utilising resources, mature PMOs can avoid overburdening staff and resources, which is a common cause of project delays and budget issues.
  • Stakeholder Satisfaction: With improved processes, communication, and results, mature PMOs are better positioned to meet or exceed stakeholder expectations. This alignment is key to delivering projects that meet quality standards and achieve the desired outcomes.
  • Learning and Adaptation: A hallmark of a mature PMO is its ability to learn from past projects and adapt its processes. This continuous improvement cycle ensures that lessons learned are applied to future projects, further enhancing the likelihood of successful delivery.

    The following model provides a simple and powerful way to look at PMO process maturity.

    Download PMO maturity model PDF

    The five levels of PMO Maturity

    • Level 1 – Ad Hoc Process: At this maturity level, there is no documented process. The objectives of the process or function are achieved on an ad hoc basis with no clear performance criteria.
    • Level 2 – Defined Process: The process has been defined, but there is no evidence that the defined process is consistently followed. Processes at this level cater to variations and exceptions on an ad hoc basis. Any defined performance criteria are not used to measure the performance of the process.
    • Level 3 – Deployed Process: The documented process is consistently followed, including the handling of variations and exceptions. The process has seamless linkages with other functions and processes, where interaction is needed. The process is measured against performance criteria on an ad hoc basis.
    • Level 4 – Measured and Automated: The documented process is followed all of the time, including variation and exception handling. The process is being consistently measured against performance criteria.
    • Level 5 – Continuously Improved: The documented process is always followed and measured against defined performance criteria. Process improvements are regularly tested and implemented.

    The following example shows a straight forward way to progress to the next stage of maturity across standard PMO processes.

    Download Standard PMO process maturity PDF


    We strongly believe the core benefit of a mature PMO is to increase the likelihood of project success. The way we establish and operate high maturity PMOs means we measure process performance on an ongoing basis. Each core process has defined performance standards that are continually measured against with sub-processes to identify process improvements.

    Our team has an established track record of running PMOs that put complex programs on the front foot, ensuring they’re well-organised and able to focus on program delivery. If you need more of that sort of thing in your life, reach out.

    We have in-house methods for PMO establishment that allow us to establish level 5 maturity processes that are aligned to the specific context and requirements of your organisation in a matter of weeks. Adapting this approach to your established PMO will enhance maturity and provide you with the basis to consistently measure and improve processes.

    Get in touch with Thinkable