Can you make your PMO succeed (Part 4)

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Project selection, Project review

Expanding on elements discussed in earlier parts of our Can you make your PMO succeed posts; this part will look at how you can get the PMO to assist in the core business task of selecting the right projects and ensuring only the best projects continue.

Enabling the selection and continuation of the most beneficial projects is a significant achieve for any PMO. How does your PMO measure up?

Defining selection criteria

Does your organisation have clear business-related criteria for the selection of projects? If not the PMO should be in a good place to help the executive team define how projects should be selected. The resulting working team is well positioned to define what elements should be included to support the organisations core values and aims. Where this is done well it minimises the impact of pet projects and helps to keep project delivery focused on current goals that give real benefit.

To establish good selection criteria the senior management team should consider elements that are important; these might be split into a number of areas:

  • Profitability
  • Compliance
  • Ethics
  • Environmental impact
  • Social impact
  • Image
  • Innovation

This is a suggested list but covers most of the core areas that should be included. The senior team, helped by the PMO, should analyse and agree the weighting between the areas. Elements like legal compliance and increased profit will always feature strongly. But other elements like social impact, image and innovation will help to outline the core aims of the organisation. Using the criteria effectively will start to embed the core value of a business in the projects it carries out.

Ongoing review of projects in Flight

With the selection criteria in place the PMO can arrange regular review sessions that discuss new projects being proposed and help in how well they fit the defined criteria. Overall project budget and the organisation’s capacity to deliver will also need to be considered when reviewing the portfolio. The right projects need to be supported, this means looking at projects that may no longer fit the corporate goals or ones that might not deliver the returns expected.

The group reviewing projects should have representation from project delivery and the business areas that benefit. A review body should ideally be kept small enough to be focused, while having enough credibility to represent all interests. The PMO can facilitate the review and provide data. The decisions should be owned by the senior management.

Killing Projects that do not measure up

Terminating projects that no longer match the selection criteria is one of the most difficult things for a PMO to implement. Projects that have been going for a while take on a life of their own. Sponsors are often reluctant to agree to end them. But it is always better to kill a project that has wasted £5M rather than allowing it to go on to waste £10M.


So, having your PMO become central to the strategic thinking of the organisation is a major step towards success. Coupling that with the tactical support of programmes and projects means the PMO is offering real value. Do that while supporting change and adapting to the continued drive for change that all organisations face will mean your PMO is an essential and valued asset.