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Are PMOs a Transformative Function?

The term Project Management Offices (PMOs) is often associated with overheads and governance, yet as key critics explain – this stereotype is not always reflective of the truth.

Gartner predicts that by 2030, smart machines, AI and the IoT will play distinct roles in projects such as data collection, analysis and reporting. PPM leaders will require a new and specific project management skillset to oversee successful collaborations between smart machines and humans.

In this three-part series of blog articles, we will explore the transformation of PMOs and their adaptation to new technologies. What value do PMOs provide today? And what does the future look like?

PART 1 OF 3– INTRO: THE STATE OF PMOs TODAY

Although the statistics from Gartner may seem extreme, in today’s complex and fast-changing world, it is evident that PMOs have already shifted from focusing solely on supporting process.

With the support of technology, an increasing number of PMOs are evolving to become insight hubs, providing key analytics to inform strategy and performance. Access, management and the use of data enable PMOs to be positioned as trusted advisors. In this role, PMOs serve delivery and support investment, innovation and/or cost management decisions.

PMOs can also drive continuous improvement across the organisation and have invaluable perspective on the real-life delivery problems staff and Executives are facing. This knowledge, combined with industry best practice, can be applied to gradually and systematically improve the delivery outcomes and culture of an organisation. This will be explored further in Part 2.

A global study by PM Solutions found that PMOs at the top of their game not only impact project management performance but boost organisational performance as a whole. PMOs in high-performing organisations:

  • Scored significantly higher on addressing the issues that matter most to Executives,
  • Scored significantly higher on prioritising projects effectively,
  • Were more than twice as likely to practice resource optimisation functions, and
  • More likely to have a training program in place (to support workforce upskilling).

SNAPSHOT

The benefits of a PMO in creating results:
o High performing companies
o Strategic decisions

IS A SYSTEM REQUIRED BEFORE ANY VALUE CAN BE REALISED?

Strategic value can be realised immediately and does not have to depend on an amazing system. However, to maintain an up-to-date project data in the long term, the adoption of a fit-for-purpose tool and process is recommended. Seek to automate compliance, reporting and management as much as possible so that more effort can be focused on transformational, rather than transactional, activities.

CASE IN POINT

Prior to adopting a PPM tool, one company did a stock take of key project information across 100 projects via an excel spreadsheet – Whilst, for obvious reasons, this is not a recommended long-term approach for capturing and maintaining data, having instant insight in to all inflight projects informed an Executive prioritisation conversation. This eventuated in the immediate termination of $1 million worth of projects; money that was reinvested in to a Business Transformation Program.

By Helena Chen, Portfolio and Change Lead at Sensei

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