Poll results show PMOs getting more strategic
In a previous blog post, we defined three levels of PPM maturity with respect to business strategy support: strategy alignment, strategy execution and strategy decision support. In this article, I would like to share some recent poll data we collected on where PMOs are along this maturity spectrum.
To review, strategy alignment is the concept of aligning a project idea, proposal or in-flight project with a formal business goal or strategic objective. In practice, it is used as project selection criterion or on-going justification rationale. As such, it can be viewed as a “bottom-up” process. This contrasts with a “top-down” strategy execution process that starts with strategic objectives as the starting point for ideating necessary projects and work required to implement a given strategy. Strategy Decision Support refers to having a role in helping organizations decide on which strategic alternatives to pursue and where to invest resources. Strategy decision support is the most ambitious and expansive role that can be contemplated. It is practiced by PMOs or Enterprise PMOs (EPMOs) that have a seat at the table where key business strategies and decisions are hatched.
In a recent Webinar entitled the Ultimate Guide to Business-Driven PMO Success” we polled the audience of well over 200 participants to see where on the “strategy pyramid” they saw their PMO. Here are the results:
The results are more or less in line with our expectations. We do have a pyramid formed by a broad base of folks focused on strategy alignment (nearly 50%), followed by a solid middle-tier of folks using PPM to drive strategy execution, capped by a smaller, yet still significant percentage of organizations that have achieved true partner status with the executive ranks.
Note, it was made clear to the respondents that responding in the affirmative to “strategy decision support” does not mean you are asked to provide occasional input to strategy formulation exercises or that you consulted on strategic decisions, rather that you do hold the proverbial seat at the table. This makes this 17% a bit of a surprise and hopefully a bit of inspiration for those at the lower tiers of the pyramid that aspire to move up the influence ladder.
Equally, positive is that over 50% of PMOs – the 54% in the top two tiers -- are taking a top-down approach to strategy influence by either (a) starting with corporate objectives and using these priorities to drive project activity and/or (b) actually playing a role in the strategy formulation or development process.
We do not have any benchmark data to understand how these results are trending and we haven’t correlated the data with size of PMO, industry or other contextual data, so it’s difficult to extrapolate too much from this information snapshot. Nevertheless, I would love to get your reactions to this result.