For several years now the phrase ‘Zombie PMO’ has been used to describe a PMO organization that is barely alive — more focused on mundane self-serving practices than delivering business value. Be sure that well before the ‘Zombie’ reference was born, this has been a crisis in the PM community. For years we’ve seen PMOs come and go in and out of fashion, not because the concept of a PMO lacked business value, but because those executing the PMO have failed to focus on the business value they should be delivering.
We staunchly support the idea of embracing best-practices, standards, governance, and employing sound methodology. But, without an understanding of how these characteristics should be leveraged to deliver for the business, you run the risk of becoming antiquated, unnecessary, and overhead that the business will either ignore or disband.
One of the critical actions that I would encourage for any PMO leader is to engage in a healthy dialog with the business counterparts and ask them directly what they are looking to achieve. Not surprisingly, I have found in many organizations a huge disconnect between what the PMO thinks its job is and what their business sponsors think their job is.