Re-Tooling Business-Driven PMOs to Deal with Business Change
We left off a recent post by concluding that, at the highest level, PMOs are about enabling and executing change using projects, programs and portfolio management and execution as the vehicle for change. We characterized business-driven PMOs specifically as the enablers of “strategic” or even “transformational change.” This leads us to the premise of this post that a business-driven approach that focuses on strategy and change execution will require “PMOs” to develop new capabilities and strengths.
This is especially true due to the speed of business change in which the greater organization is operating. The strategic changes the PMO will play a pivotal role in executing are in anticipation or reaction to rapid changes in competitive dynamics, customer expectations, supply-chain constraints, broader economic and financial realities and so on. So, what might some of these new PMO capabilities and strengths be? Here are five ideas.
1. Strategy execution and alignment agility
Business-driven PMOs must be able to react quickly to changes to corporate strategies, which are in turn, changing more rapidly in response to the business climate. This requires a clear articulation of corporate strategies and priorities on the part of leadership and a direct communication channel to the PMO. The PMO then needs to be prepared to align its activities and outcomes with the evolving business objectives.
2. Institutionalization of innovation
Innovation can’t be viewed as business variable that can’t be managed. PMOs can play a role in (a) fostering a culture of innovation, (b) providing incentives and recognition for finding innovative solutions to problems that are implemented via projects and programs (c) providing a governance process for capturing, filtering, prioritizing and promoting innovative ideas.
3. “Systems thinking” with respect to programs, portfolios and initiatives
Strategic change requires a broader perspective than the traditional atomic level of change represented by a “project.” Strategic change often requires executing cross-functional programs and top-down strategic initiatives, and making fundamental adjustment to project portfolios. This will require PMOs to develop a core competency in seeing and managing the big picture and all of its moving parts.
4. Business intelligence and analytics, not just reporting
The role of tools will need to evolve in business-driven PMOs from a focus on reporting on “what happened” to “what’s happening now” and ultimately to “what’s going to happen.” PMOs could get away with managing based on what happened (i.e., by using only their rear view mirror) when the road ahead was relatively straight and predictable. However, for most organizations this is becoming more challenging due to the speed of business change. The unpredictability of the road ahead will require real-time business intelligence instruments to understand what is happening right now and analytics to better plan for future scenarios.
5. Serving as a cultural shift enabler
PMOs can play a role in shaping an organization culture that embraces behaviors associated with the concepts described above. Starting with PMO staff, your organization’s people need to be more agile and adaptable to change, more innovative, more holistic and “big picture” oriented and more forward looking and less reactive. If successful PMOs are about enabling and executing change, it’s a good idea to start by looking in the mirror.