To Increase the ROI on Strategic Initiatives, Consider Implementing a Project Management Office

If a financial advisor promised 25% of your investments would never produce returns, you probably would not trust that advisor with your financial future. Many businesses, though, do exactly that with their project investments.

U.S. organizations have a 75% success rate for projects that achieve their planned goals or benefits, according to the Project Management Institute’s 2021 Pulse of the Profession. The results are even worse for finishing under budget, at 62%, and on time, at 56%.

A 75% success rate might sound excellent at first glance. After all, some of the greatest baseball players got hits only one out of three at-bats.

Consider, though, the impact to your organization if you could move the needle to keep projects on time, under budget and meeting their goals 10% to 20% more often. How much of a competitive and financial edge would it mean if more of the dollars, materials and effort invested in your projects delivered successful returns more reliably?

Here’s the good news: It is completely possible! The answer is creating a project management office (PMO) to align resources, manage dependencies and conflicts, and ensure your project budget dollars are well invested.


The power of project management
Once limited to construction and technology, project management is now an important competency for every kind of organization. With effective PMOs, organizations routinely see 80%-85% of projects delivering all planned goals and benefits, 80%-85% finishing under budget and 85%-90% finishing on time.

In health care, PMOs can solve a lot of headaches, especially in the complex and delicate balancing act of transitioning from fee-for-service to full risk, including:

  • Making sure your resources are assigned to the right tasks
  • Keeping your projects aligned to your strategic goals
  • Managing your project investments to get the highest possible return

What is a PMO?

If your organization has never had a PMO, it might conjure up images of a small army of men and women who look suspiciously like the Geek Squad from BestBuy, running around in a frenzy with notebooks and laptops and reprimanding everyone because the schedules are out of date and no one filled out this week’s TPS report.

A PMO is, in fact, meant to do exactly the opposite.

A PMO doesn’t have to be large. It shouldn’t add miles of bureaucratic red tape. It isn’t meant to slow down your projects or make things more complex.

A PMO brings a structured approach that manages risk and optimizes resource use. Project managers proactively watch for and address obstacles to keep projects on track, and they keep the team focused on delivering real benefits to the stakeholders. While no project will ever be free of all issues, projects with a project manager are over three times more likely to conclude successfully.1


Do you need a PMO?

You will benefit from a PMO if you have:

  • initiatives with a specific scope, starting and ending dates, and that are outside of your routine, day-to-day operations
  • projects that include team members across your organization and even other organizations, that are expected to deliver key elements of your organizational strategy, and that must hit critical deadlines
  • many projects in progress at once
  • challenges knowing if your resources are used to full capacity and don’t have the tools and processes to maximize your productivity


Getting started with project management

Building a PMO is not as complicated as you might expect, but it does require careful thought. Project management requires discipline, training, and a champion.

1. Start by appointing an executive to own the PMO and who will enthusiastically promote project management while diplomatically guiding the changes necessary to encourage your teams to adopt and embrace the project management approach.

2. Leadership support is crucial to make project management stick.

3. Within the PMO, it’s important to clearly define roles, responsibilities, and expectations for anyone working in a project manager role, especially if you don’t have a staff of full-time project managers.

4. Then, to help them succeed, they will need the right project management tools and processes. Make sure they fit your organization – structured enough to gain control of your projects and your resource management but flexible enough to support your organization’s culture and style.

As with any change, implementing a PMO and seeing its full value takes time. When your teams begin to see the incremental wins and support for navigating the obstacles of project delivery like a star athlete dodging opponents to take the ball across the goal line, you will soon see more projects finishing faster, cheaper, and better that, most of all, deliver significant value and benefit to your organization.

For more information, please contact



1Alvarenga, J., Branco, R., Do Valle, A., Soares, C., & Silva, W. (2018). A revaluation of the criticality of the project manager to the project’s success. Business Management Dynamics, 8(2), 1-18.