PMO Agility Through Climate Reflection

PMO Agility Through Climate Reflection

Insights | 23 November 2015

Over the past 5 years the PM-Partners PMO Trends Report has highlighted a disparity between what Executives want from a PMO and what PMOs are actually delivering.

Indeed, one of the most significant trends is that Executives want practical processes that support the emerging agile way of working.

Agile adoption is forcing a shift from projects being scope/schedule driven to outcome/value driven…”

PM-Partners group PMO Trends Report 2015

A Climate Change?

So what ‘climate’ do you need to create in order to achieve this way of thinking? How do we get PMO teams to generate practical processes that enable business flexibility?

The climate or atmosphere of the PMO is typically easier to assess and define than the more deep rooted aspects of organisational culture. Culture is about the norms, values, beliefs and behaviours of adopted by people within an organisation.

“…climate is somewhat more changeable, reflecting the current feelings and perceptions of key stakeholders”

The Effective Change Manager’s Handbook, 2015

PMOs that are savvy to ‘climatic conditions’ and able to reflect and assess their environment, stand themselves in good stead. Is the climate people-oriented, governance-oriented, innovation-oriented or outcome-oriented? Agility and agile methods require a shift in thinking and working, from ‘school master’ to leadership, facilitation, and collaboration.

4 Tips for Assessing your PMO Climate


  1. Are decision making processes and associated assumptions accurately aligned to the categorisation, scale and type of projects in the portfolio?
  2. Are risk identification processes ‘lean’ and part of project cadence and rhythm, or are they unwieldy and lack in pragmatism?
  3. Are project objectives reviewed at key control points/milestones, or does the original business case remain largely static?
  4. Are we open to change the way we do things around here?

Do be honest and objective – if possible look at having someone independent do an assessment or review. Remember as a PMO you don’t have projects undertake their own health checks.

Be agile in your approach: think, live and breathe agile concepts such as ‘inspect and adapt’, customer focus and trusting not blaming. Create an agile greenhouse that embraces change.

Where next?

PMOs need to regularly challenge their existing processes in order to refine and optimise the way they operate. The ultimate focus needs to be on lean and fit for purpose PMO processes, providing executives with the flexibility needed as business strategy more and more demands agility.

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