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The PMO in cultural context

Posted by Ammar Mango on May 21, 2012

I was talking to a colleague today who works for one of the top five global consulting firms.  He is assigned to a PMO setup project in Saudi Arabia.  The discussion was on why many Project Management Office (PMO) setups in the region fail to achieve objectives.  Here are some of the causes we raised:

1) Not addressing culture in PMO setup: Many companies try to copy PMO setups foreign to the region, without taking into consideration the cultural aspects and current level of maturity of project management practices in the organization.

2) Lack of deep PMO experience for many of the consulting companies carrying out the PMO setup project.  Yes, they might be big companies with long experience and big names, but they do not have the experience in PMO setup.  Most of the companies good at this, even in other parts of the world are smaller size, more specialized companies in specifically organizational project management.

3) Many companies try to run a full fledged PMO without a clear gradual plan of bringing the PMO to its full functional state.  They are eager to get it working and they get entangled into having to handle too much too soon.

4) Many try to set up a PMO without a clear documented governance that ties to the organizational vision and strategy.

5) Focusing too much on software without having the processes or the people to get the job done.

6) Lack of real empowerment of the PMO at Executive level, where PMO is pushed to perform, without bringing departments and key stakeholders to support the PMO.

7) Passive resistance from key stakeholders who see the PMO as taking away from their authority or power in the company, or who are benefiting from the status quo, or who are not clear on the PMO and how it can help them.

8) Giving up too early on the PMO for the lack of understanding that PMO setup is a step in a journey that usually takes years to mature the PMO and really reap the benefits from it.

What do you think?


2 Responses to “The PMO in cultural context”

  1. abulkury said

    Agreeing with all what you’ve said above, but i think from my short experience that cultural aspects are the biggest challenge when talking about setting up PMOs in KSA. But lets say if the most successful PMO consulting firms in USA , EU, CANADA, AUSTRALIA, UK etc… come to KSA and try to setup PMOs, I am totally sure they will not see a success story if cultural aspects are not taken into consideration. It is about change management.

  2. mohammad abu sbeih said

    that’s right, and i can add another point that i have seen from a PMO project in KSA which is ignoring quick wins shots, i think quick wins is very important to get buy-in and to make the users enthusiastic about going more and more in PMO implementation and development

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