It shouldn’t surprise that Project Management Offices have been under increasing pressure from their organizations over the past few decades to be more agile, strategic, and value-adding. This point has been further highlighted by the COVID-19 epidemic.
Many PMOs are facing unprecedented challenges in their organizations due to the pandemic. A serious rethinking of roles and activities is necessary if they are going to survive.
The PMO must not only align with stakeholders’ value expectations but also have a good understanding and appreciation of the organisation and its portfolio management (PPM).
Definition of the PMO
PMOs are primarily providers of PPM services. These can include the following:
Delivering programmes and projects;
A growing number of methodologies, standards, and techniques are available.
Governance, control, and reporting
Programmes and projects that require funding;
Supervise the entire portfolio of projects.
There are many pre-defined PMO types and models, including Gartner’s Four Types of PMOs, Project Management Institute (PMI’s) Three Types of PMOs, and Axelos Project, Portfolio and Offices (P3O).
These models can be used as a benchmark or reference, but they are not the same. PMOs rarely fit in the same model.
PMOs that aim to be a particular model are often unsuccessful in gaining support and buy-in from their business counterparts. This is because they have lost sight of the reason why the PMO exists, as well as the level PPM maturity within the organization.
We find that some organizations are moving away from the PMO and pursuing alternative delivery methods in the hope that this will solve their problems and help them achieve better, quicker results.
However, these companies are realizing that success requires more than a PMO and a delivery method.
It is crucial to identify stakeholder value expectations
PMOs do more than provide support or enabling functions. They are service providers and must understand their stakeholders in order to provide exceptional service.
They are often the reason they exist. Yet, speaking with C-suite executives and PMO managers from different industries, it is clear many PMOs don’t understand what adds value to the lives of their stakeholders.
As we have already mentioned, PMOs often use models to decide what they should do and be. However, they should first talk to their stakeholders to understand their needs, environment, and challenges. It is a crucial first step.
Understanding the business and its maturity in PPM
The ‘ecosystems of organisations’ are made up many moving parts. These include business processes and applications as well as information, technology, structures, and people.
It is a delicate balance and if any of the parts are not connected, integrated, or aligned, the whole environment can be put under strain. The same principle can be applied to project execution. No matter how mature a PMO is, it cannot affect strategic success on its own.
Companies that seem to be able to turn strategy into reality are distinguished by the fact that they have identified projects (and programs) as key vehicles for delivering strategy.
They also know that PPM maturity is crucial for success in organisations as projects involve the entire organisation, not just the PMO and project management community.
Maturity = Value
It doesn’t matter if you can’t measure it. It is impossible to control it if you don’t understand it. If you don’t understand it, you can’t control it.