The 7 challenges that a PMO must face in order to succeed

The 7 challenges all PMO must address in order to

Project portfolio management has become a strategic element for businesses. More and more organizations are having a PMO in place, that serves as a guide and support to Project Managers throughout the lifecycle of each of the projects and programs they manage.

As organizations have had to evolve their management and operations models towards other more agile approaches, PMOs will also have to evolve if they do not want to run the risk of being stuck in the past, and that company management no longer perceives the value they can bring to the organization. From Triskell Software we explain the seven challenges that PMOs must face in this new environment in order to take them to the next level.

PMOs and Agile Project Portfolio Management

Traditionally, PMOs have based their operations on keeping control of projects, so that they are completed on time and on budget. However, today, with increasingly complex and changing competitive environments, agile management is gradually taking over from more traditional ways of management, PMOs that remain anchored in this “classic” management model are in danger of disappearing if they do not set these objectives:

  1. Empowering PMOs in the organization’s value streams.
  2. To be a collaborative and agile office serving all business levels.
  3. Move towards agile project portfolio management.

See the Triskell platform in action in a personal demo​

1. Empowering PMOs in the organization’s value streams

Organizations are now focused on the value they deliver to their customers, and how the different areas and departments participate in the creation of that value. If PMOs remain stuck in their command and control model to ensure that projects are delivered on time and on budget, their contribution to the value streams of the organization will be marginal and, therefore, will be considered by senior management as an unnecessary expense for the company.

2. Collaboration and agility at the service of all business levels

Agile and collaborative environments are gaining ground over silo-based organizational models. PMOs must evolve and stop being just the office where Project Managers have the necessary tools to carry out the organization’s projects.

PMOs must, on the one hand, seek continuous communication flows with the company’s Senior Management in order to align the Project Portfolio with the organization’s objectives. And, on the other hand, to serve as a reference point both for stakeholders and for the work teams involved in the projects, offering them both real-time information on the status of projects and support at all levels for their correct implementation.

3. Towards Agile Project Portfolio Management

In this new competitive environment, with highly volatile markets that require companies to bring products and services to market as quickly as possible, change is the norm. Company objectives can change in very short periods of time, which makes it necessary to redesign the prioritization of the project portfolio.

This is where PMOs have to adapt to this new environment and manage in an agile manner key project management issues such as prioritization, resource management, budgets or delivery dates, and learn to react to changes that may arise in their project portfolios in an agile and efficient manner without losing sight of the organization’s objectives.

The problems that the PMO must address in order to be successful

Renew or die. That’s the point. If PMOs do not set these three objectives mentioned above, will be at risk of disappearing because senior management will no longer perceive the value they bring to the organization.

It won´t be easy, and along the way, the Project Management Office will have to face several challenges to cope with this transformation to the new reality. Specifically, there are seven challenges that the PMO will have to deal with in order for its role to be perceived as key to the organization’s value streams:

  • Align the project portfolio with the organization’s strategy.
  • Resource management, a real challenge for PMOs.
  • Responsiveness to changes in the project portfolio.
  • Fluent communication with the organization’s senior management.
  • Embrace Agile Leadership.
  • Standardization of processes and workflows.
  • Renewal of project portfolio management tools.

Next, we go on to detail each of these challenges and how the PMO must face them.

1. Align the project portfolio with the organization’s strategy

Many companies fail to achieve their strategic objectives precisely because the execution of their project portfolio was not aligned with the organization’s strategy. PMOs must be conscious of the importance to the business of executing programs and projects that are aligned with the organization’s mission and vision.

To this purpose, the PMO must play a crucial role in the strategy execution, maintaining regular communication channels with Senior Management to ensure that the portfolio is aligned with the organization’s objectives. This should be reflected in product and project portfolios that are more in line with the medium- and long-term vision of the business, and teams and work areas focused on achieving common objectives.

2. Resource management, a real challenge for PMOs

The biggest challenge that Project Management Offices have to face on a daily basis, and also the main reason why many of them fail, is to efficiently manage resources across their project portfolio.

At this point, PMOs may face several problems as a result of poor resource planning. For example, having unrealistic schedules and budgets, inefficient time management, or inconsistent resource allocations.

Problems related to resource management can be prevented if the PMO has a clear vision of the organization’s strategic objectives. as explained in the previous point. Having a communication channel always opened with Senior Management will ensure that the execution of the Project Portfolio is aligned with the strategic planning and, therefore, financial and human resources management in accordance with the organization’s objectives.

3. Responsiveness to changes in the project portfolio

Change management is another of the trickiest aspects that a PMO must face when executing the project portfolio. Either because the organization’s objectives change, or also because new demands come to the PMO that end up being more projects to manage, the truth is that in many occasions PMOs have problems in managing these changes, either because they fail to reallocate resources or because they fail to prioritize projects.

Here again, communication is essential. Firstly, with senior management, to ensure that any readjustments made when changing portfolio priorities are in line with strategic planning. And, secondly, with the teams and work areas involved in the organization’s value streams, so that all of them work in an agile way and prioritize their backlogs according to what the organization needs at that moment.

4. Fluent communication with the organization’s senior management

As previously explained, the PMO must have open and constant communication channels with the organization’s managers to ensure that strategic planning and project portfolio execution are aligned.

And not only that. PMOs must ensure that senior management sees the value they create for the organization. This communication should also include reports and dashboards that inform in real-time the status of each of the projects, as well as the main milestones achieved throughout the portfolio execution.

5. Embrace Agile Leadership

On this path that many organizations are taking towards business agility, PMOs must act as one of the leaders of change. It must evolve from being an office from which to control the status of the portfolio execution and give the corresponding orders to the different work teams, to act as a facilitator and help remove obstacles and bottlenecks that may obstruct the execution of the portfolio.

In other words, the PMO must also embrace Agile Leadership. They must leave behind the traditional management based on Command&Control, and be a support point so that Project Managers and the different teams and work areas can perform their work to their full potential.

6. Standardization of processes and workflows

Another challenge that PMOs must face is that, during portfolio execution, project managers and teams have processes in place that may cause bottlenecks in project workflows and, therefore, therefore obstruct and slow down the progress of the project.

The PMO should strive to identify these gaps and collaborate with all parties involved in the project portfolio to design standardized processes and workflows involved in the project portfolio, which must be shared with both the Project Managers and the teams and departments involved in the organization’s projects.

7. Renewal of project portfolio management tools

Many PMOs need to renew the suite of tools they use to manage and monitor the project portfolio. It has already been proven that Excel is not the best choice for project portfolio management, although many still use it to monitor the status of projects and inform senior management about their status.

Other PMOs do have PPM software with functionalities that allow them to manage and monitor the portfolio. However, many of these solutions do not offer the possibility of visualizing, from a single interface, the strategic planning with the execution of the project portfolio. Therefore, PMOs will continue to have problems in carrying out a correct prioritization of projects or a realistic allocation of resources, among other issues.your

Triskell, the PPM tool you need to solve all PMO challenges

If you want your PMO to have a complete view of both strategic planning and project portfolio execution, Triskell Software is the PPM software you are looking for.

With Triskell you will get support for the 7 challenges mentioned above, and both PMO and Project Managers will instantly benefit from the functionalities with our PPM solution. For example, all of them will be able to:

  • Align the project portfolio with the organization’s objectives: all objects created in Triskell (projects, deliverables, portfolios, etc.) can be associated with specific objectives. In addition, it has functionalities to rate the strategic priority of each of the objects you create in Triskell.
  • Maximize resource management: With our solution, PMOs will have full visibility on the number of resources and time allocated to each Triskell object, with real-time information on available resources, facilitating decision making when managing the allocation of resources to new demands that reach the PMO. or when reprioritizing existing projects.
  • To have greater visibility and control in both the management and execution of the project portfolio. From a single interface, you get a clear view of costs, resources, deliverables and delivery times for the portfolio as a whole. In addition, Triskell allows the integration of other systems into its interface, such as Jira. This also provides visibility of how the different development teams are working.
  • To open constant communication channels with senior management and stakeholders. With Triskell we can communicate the status of projects at all levels of the organization thanks to the wide variety of reports and dashboards it offers, with which the PMO will be able to report the relevant information at the right time. It also includes a fully customizable automated alert system.
  • Build a framework to support PMO processes and workflows. With our solution, you will be able to define a framework for efficient project portfolio execution, streamlining, on the one hand, the process of demand management, and on the other hand, optimizing the phases of each of the deliverables by establishing processes and workflows from the tool itself.
  • Deliver projects within the agreed deadlines and budgets. From the Triskell interface, you can monitor resources, deadlines, budgets and costs for each of your projects, in addition to the previously mentioned reports, dashboards and scorecards, with which you will be able to analyze and monitor in real-time their status.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Get stories like this in your inbox

Request a demo of Triskell Software

Triskell meets all the requirements for your organization’s PMO to take a step forward in aligning your project portfolio with strategic planning.

FAQs about PMO challenges

PMOs typically struggle with aligning project portfolios with the organization’s strategy, effectively managing resources, adapting to project portfolio changes, and communicating clearly with senior management. Additionally, embracing agile leadership, standardizing processes, and keeping PM tools up-to-date can pose significant challenges.

Resistance to change is a common hurdle. Focus on clear communication, highlighting the benefits the PMO brings to project success and overall organizational efficiency. Demonstrate value early on with small wins and involve stakeholders in the process to create a sense of ownership.

Resource management is a constant challenge. Utilize resource planning tools, conduct skills assessments to identify gaps, and implement workload forecasting to anticipate future needs. Promote flexibility and cross-training among team members to optimize resource allocation.

The PMO landscape is constantly evolving. Regularly evaluate your PPM tools to ensure they align with current needs. Stay updated on industry trends, be open to adopting new technologies like AI and automation, and encourage a culture of continuous improvement within the PMO.

By addressing these common PMO challenges and adopting the suggested solutions, your PMO can become a strategic asset, driving successful project execution and contributing to overall organizational growth.

Related Content


2024 Market Guide for Enterprise Agile Planning Tools

Get access to the Gartner® Market Guide ‘Enterprise Agile Planning Tools’ for 2024 and discover why they are key to manage strategies, investments, and outcomes effectively.