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Walking The Reporting Tightrope in PMOs

Within project management, reporting stands out as one of the most critical services provided by Project Management Offices (PMOs). It serves as a crucial communication tool for fostering stakeholder engagement and is frequently highlighted as a major contributor to P3M (Portfolio, Programme, and Project Management) maturity. It’s also the area most stakeholders express a desire to enhance.

So, why must PMOs navigate a tightrope between reporting well but seemingly never well enough?


When executed effectively, reporting delivers timely insights, analysis, and information on key delivery matters. This empowers executives to make well-informed decisions that directly influence organisational success. However, when reporting falters, it not only raises the risk of poor decision-making but also jeopardises support for the PMO itself.

In achieving PMO reporting maturity, three factors are important: data, culture, and application. An organisation must gather ample data to conduct meaningful analysis. It must also have a culture that fosters and supports candid reporting of both favourable and unfavourable developments. Finally, it requires leaders to recognise the significance of applying and using collated information to inform their decisions and take appropriate action.


These factors however, interplay with each other considerably to affect reporting maturity within PMOs.

For example, data collection can vary across organisations. Some PMOs can collect data from all projects whilst others can only collect from a few.

Cultural differences also influence how PMOs handle reporting, with psychologically safe organisations able to conduct truthful reporting. In these organisations, red statuses are used to direct support into areas that are under stress. Less psychologically safe organisations lead PMOs and managers to avoid reporting altogether or to hide negative statuses. In these organisations red statuses are treated as pariahs and buried from view.


The application of reporting also differs amongst organisations, with effective boardrooms leveraging reports to inform their decisions. Others merely review data but don’t use it in their decision-making. From these observations, three key learnings emerge.

Data gathering remains challenging for organisations.

While visualisation software tools offer sleek dashboards, effective reporting hinges on robust PMO processes and stakeholder buy-in. The most effective PMOs treat stakeholders as customers, ensuring transparency and demonstrating the benefits of reporting.

Cultivate the right culture.


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Overcoming cultural barriers to reporting, such as a reluctance to report negative statuses, is essential. A shift towards collaborative working environments that welcome truthful reporting is necessary. PMOs play a pivotal role in facilitating this shift by nurturing collaboration and providing support for projects in need.

Reporting’s true value lies not in the data, but in its application.


Merely reporting data is insufficient. Having correct data reported is good, but without analysis, using it is hard. To derive optimal value from reporting, organisations must utilise it to drive informed decision-making. PMOs should therefore coach leaders to leverage reported data to help make impactful decisions that drive positive change.

Reporting is a tightrope walk for PMOs, it’s capable of either bolstering decision-making and organisational success or undermining it. By addressing challenges in data collection, fostering a supportive reporting culture, and applying it in decision-making, PMOs can elevate their reporting maturity and contribute significantly to organisational success.