Talk about a sobering statistic.
Less than 60 per cent of organisations fully understand the value of project management, according to the 2018 edition of the Project Management Institute’s Pulse of the Profession.
Now imagine trying to prove the value of a PMO in an environment where the value of project management itself has yet to be established.
Difficult to say the least. So, for PMO leaders, the pressure is still very much “on” to prove the value of the Project Management Office, even in 2019.
One way to tackle the problem is the concept of the “Value PMO”—a way of describing a PMO orientation that is laser-focused on strategic alignment with (and of) the overall business.
Here are some of the key characteristics that define the Value PMO:
The Association for Project Management’s PMO Specific Interest Group created a value-rich list of “new skills you can’t ignore” for a successful PMO leader, all centering around the concept of social intelligence:
“Social intelligence can be described as knowledge and awareness of social situations and processes. It is the ability to get along well with others and get them to cooperate with you. Whereas emotional intelligence might be seen as the ability to empathise and connect with others on a one–to-one basis, social intelligence has a wider focus on understanding the behaviours of people in groups or teams.”
The group distilled down seven essential ways to express that social intelligence for the greater good of the business—and the PMO:
- Systemic thinking: No more “blame game” targeting individuals; replaced by root cause analysis
- Group dynamics: Knowing how to “read the room”
- Influential enquiry: Collaborative mind-shaping activities vs. top-down directives
- Psychometrics: Understanding an individual’s motivations
- Conflict management: Getting ahead of the storm by reading signals
- Reflective learning: Leading the team to regularly “pause and reflect”
- Psychological safety: Setting positive behavioural norms by example
Taken together, this list forms a strong set of guideposts that all leaders of PMOs need to consider. It also brings to mind another aspect of a truly value-driven PMO—the ability to drive alignment “between business objectives and the projects and programmes that deliver them.”
The PMI survey also revealed cracks in strategic alignment. It found that only 41% of organisations with an enterprise-wide project management office (EPMO) considered themselves “highly aligned to the organisation’s strategy.”
For the value-driven PMO, this is an unacceptable state of affairs.
Alignment can surely be improved by more effective use of project and portfolio management principles. PPM, done right, captures all aspects of process, people and technology, and then feeds iterative knowledge back into the business and stakeholders.
But there is more to solving this problem. “Value PMO” leaders realise no single approach or tool can guarantee strategic alignment. It’s also about gaining credibility and visibility as the single source of truth about projects and outcomes:
“No other group in the organisation understands the real project issues the organisation faces more than the PMO,” Greg Wood told PMI for a related white paper titled, “The Project Management Office: Aligning Strategy & Implementation.” The former managing director for a corporate PMO in the mining industry and PMI Global Executive Council member in Brisbane continued: “If executives want to know the truth about projects and the people responsible for them, the PMO is who they should ask.”
Keen to disrupt
Moving from an administrative function to a value-driven one presents new opportunities for the PMO. Here’s more from the PMI survey:
“In today’s marketplace, the project management office (PMO) can be significantly involved in the organisation’s responses to disruptions and to the opportunities to leverage exponential technologies. Such technologies may be exploited internally, for example, facilitating more efficient ways of getting work done. PMOs are also being leveraged in improving the communication or interactions between the organisation and customers.”
The emphasis on the customer is an apt one. For disruption to add value, it must fundamentally improve things for the end user of your company’s products or services. PMOs that are able to drive efficiencies, or other better outcomes for customers, are well on their way toward proving their strategic value.
Does your organisation require assistance setting up a PMO? Contact us today on +65 6818 5771.