Nov 13, 2018

PMOs are Leading Change and More

Posted by Johanna Mickel | 1 Comment

Not only do leaders think the PMO should play an important role, but in high-performing organizations, that is already happening.

Panel discussions at the PMO Symposium give me writer's cramp! It's hard to take notes fast enough, especially when confronted with an array of highly knowledgeable practitioners. The panelists were:

  • Melissa Eckers, Accenture
  • Brian Murphy, CapGemini
  • Jan Musil, SAP
  • Noel Smyth, JP Morgan

The upshot?

The PMO is evolving and changing; no longer merely tactical, its future is becoming more strategic. None of this was news to us, of course; our research studies showed this happening over the past three to five years. However, I am stoked to hear highly placed execs from major companies jump on this bandwagon! Their consensus on what they call the "NextGen PMO" (what our folks have often referred to as "The Strategy Execution Office") is that there are three primary steps to establishing a PMO that drives strategic execution:

  • Culture of leadership
  • Retool / reskill project leader skills
  • Evolve delivery metrics to link to strategic objectives

A statistic that I did not catch the source citation for, but which is compelling:

  • 90% of leaders think the PMO plays a key role in future strategy delivery and project outcomes

Compare this to the slide below, which I  snagged from my colleague Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin's PMI Conference presentation, which detailed the findings from our 2017 Strategy Execution Processes Benchmark study:

From these statistics, you can see that not only do leaders think the PMO should play an important role, but in high-performing organizations, that is already happening. This is no surprise, since over the past decade, our State of the PMO studies have shown an increasing trend toward the involvement of the PMO at the strategic level.

In discussing the factors that compel the PMO to evolve (spoiler alert: our new white paper on The Evolving PMO is due out next week), the panel threw out several possible factors:

  1. PMO growth is flat (our State of the PMO studies largely confirm this, with about 85% of companies reporting that they have PMOs, which has only budged by a percentage point or two over the past five years)
  2. PMOs are not changing fast enough to meet business needs, and
  3. Less than one-third of PMOs show tangible results.

To this last item, I just want to say: yes, and that may be because the performance measurement piece of the puzzle is still not being put in place. Our research seems to indicate that, while PMOs deliver all kinds of important value-adds to organizations, they are not that skilled at measuring the value they contribute ... or at communicating it to the C-level, which is in practice the same thing. According to our strategy execution research, performance measurement is an area where even high-performing companies have deficits.

If there's a call to action here, it's "don't wait for the PMO's value to be questioned: jump in and start documenting and communicating it." There's hunger for PMO value at the top: feed that tiger!

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1 Comment on The PMO Symposium: Conference Review Part 2

Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin says:

Hey, Johanna, thanks for the mention. This topic also reminds me of one of the questions that was asked in my PMI Conference session. The attendee’s company had actually abolished the PMO, moving many functions up to the C-level, with the objective of adding agility and speed to strategy execution. He asked me if I had seen this in other companies. I researched it a bit and it does seem to be among the trends pertaining to “the evolving PMO”. My thought is ... it doesn’t matter what we call it, just so long as the processes are in place and well managed!

Posted on November 16, 2018 at 4:24 pm

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