With the start of 2017 the challenges that face the PMO remain broadly the same as last year. The PMO is seen as important, but most organisations still have an unclear picture of what it can do, or what it should do. How can PMO Managers and Leaders help to address these challenges. PMOs still need to establish clear value to avoid wasting time and focus; then ultimately be disbanded or re-invented.
Value offered by your PMO
With some organisations questioning if they should have a PMO at all; it is clear that PMOs need to demonstrate clearly the value they can offer. That value is not likely to be producing reporting and providing templates to follow. The admin steps are important to underpin PMO benefits but offer little benefit on a strategic level. PMOs must get the ear of executive management and be a core part of helping to drive benefits from the projects selected. More than ever the heads of PMO need to understand the business need and assist the executive management when managing the pipeline of possible projects.
Value can also be delivered by using feedback loops and lessons learned to improve the project delivery cycle, The PMO should measure the improvement in project timescales and costs to demonstrate value. Ultimately the PMO could be at the core of driving organisations forward by providing the information on the projects to select. At the same time the most mature PMO functions can help flex the methods used to deliver projects and help project teams improve with robust feedback loops.
Data Analysis and Automation
Data analysis becomes increasingly important to PMOs. The analysis of project performance data is key to helping to improve project delivery. The analysis of data relating to the organisational aims and goals to guide the selection of the most appropriate projects. And in the most advanced cases the inclusion of business sector and competitive data to help define and shape future strategy.
Even in new PMOs the analysis of data is core to progression. Collecting information on project performance and review trends to enable sensible tuning of the project controls used.
The PMO is expected to establish the use of a methodology, thus enabling a framework for project managers to follow. The PMO can add value by adapting the process to help improve delivery. Methodologies are always evolving: the PMO can bring value by sensible selection of the processes and controls that improve project success. Too many PMOs get bogged down by a rigid prescriptive project approach that wastes time and inhibits project managers.
PMOs that provide flexible approaches and retain good project governance, while minimising the administration for project teams will be able to demonstrate better value.
Project Management Tools
PMOs can run without PPM tools. But a good PPM tool will improve data quality and reduce the overhead in providing PMO reports and portfolio management. PPM tools that can integrate with other data sources will enable more timely information across the organisation.
It is unlikely that PMOs can offer the higher level of maturity and value without a PPM tool. Some organisations look to use their own home grown PPM tools, but most will offer better service by sensible implementation of a suitable off the shelf solution.
Dashboard and Management Information
Ease of reporting and availability of information will remain a core element of the PMO. Timely data should be available on projects. The format of information will depend on the audience, increasingly this should be available real time and on a range of platforms. This will include mobile, tablet and traditional desktop views. Formal paper reporting will become less important.
Although a core function of PMO, dashboard and reporting deliver lower value-add when compared to the control of project time, cost and benefits. A reporting service that tells you of overspend and uncontrolled risk is only a stepping stone to improving financial control and managing risk.
Planning and Scheduling
PMOs that help project delivery manage resources and dependencies can show significant value-add. For PMOs that already have the core planning and scheduling well established, they can build feedback cycles for process improvement. The most advanced PMOs can use these foundations to provide support for strategy modelling and long term planning.
2017 will be another exciting year for PMOs and only those that can demonstrate value and help drive projects forward will survive.