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Is the Modern PMO Achieveable?

Modern PMOI downloaded a white paper last week from ca technologies called Business Agility Begins with a Modern PMO: Change Agents.

What a title, so much to unpick, so many buzz terms, how could you not want to read that – business – agility – modern – change – agents!

The white paper is about the need for the PMO to respond to the business as it changes – it’s this Gartner push that screams “internet of things”, stuff being developed so quickly to get it to market before someone else does or else the company fails and goes bust. It’s the sense of urgency – and how things needs to be “innovative”, “creative”, “collaborative” and “entrepreneurial” or else you’re just a dinosaur company.

But do our companies, the organisations we work for, really show any signs of this? As a PMO do you think you’re in the driving seat of this fantastically modern PMO that is guiding your organisation to super stardom?

First of all, let’s understand what ca technologies believe a modern PMO to be.

What on earth is a modern PMO?

It’s a PMO that people like – for people read ‘development teams’. The white paper quotes a Forrester stat that “48% of development teams surveyed reported a positive relationship between themselves and the PMO”. I’m assuming that the other 52% didn’t like them that much, but to be fair, there’s not much in it, it’s like Marmite.

Apparently it comes down to a ‘lack of trust’ that ‘impedes the process of delivering value to customers’ that the development teams don’t like.

The development teams are crying out for “business agility” and as a result, PMOs are moving away from a traditional approach which means concentrating on “strategic issues” rather than “tactical procedures and execution”.

IMO that’s a load of tosh, the PMO will always be about both. Trying to find the balance between both of those – it’s not an either / or. The day a business stops caring about control around projects and making projects deliver more successfully because the execution is well planned and delivered – is the day when they might as well go out of business.

I digress.

I actually like the five pillars of the modern PMO as suggested by ca (well, all but one of them). I also think that it’s applicable to any PMO already today and doesn’t need the “modern” moniker adding to it.
Have a look, see what you think:

The question I asked at the beginning – Is the Modern PMO Achievable? – is primarily related to the idea that the PMO must adopt an agile mindset before any of these five pillars can be achieved.
You can read about all five of those in more detail when you download the report here.

I argue that adding the “agile mindset” to all of this is just a distraction from what are five four very good ideals for the PMO moving forward.

The Five Pillars

Here’s what they are and why they’re achievable:

  • Meaningful results‘, absolutely yes – this is wrapped up in the whole value of projects to an organisation and in turn the value of the PMO to the business. If we’re here, are we doing the right job and the best job for the organisation? I would argue that this is one of the main reasons why the PMO is there and the next one too:
  • Business intelligence‘, absolutely yes it’s achievable, it’s something the PMO grapples with all the time and if we give them the right tools and train the PMO in business intelligence (because I don’t think I’ve ever seen any PMO person go on an actual course to do this) we would be doing a great job already. If there is one breakthrough thing to happen in the PMO industry it’s this. Crack this and the PMO will never be questioned again about its value or why it even exists in the first place. Take off the handcuffs and let them do their job!
  • Value Through Focus and Alignment‘, yes absolutely achievable, the PMO should be evolving and changing to support the business – and updating its functions and services accordingly. And it does this when the business needs it – there is nothing modern about it – it just is and just does.
  • Guides Entrepreneurial Culture‘, I’m sure some PMOs do this or try to do it (the report doesn’t convince me that there are practical things the PMO can be doing to guide this) but I’m not convinced that most well established organisations are that interested in the “entrepreneurial spirit of the start-up… synonymous with agility, innovation and creativity” and changing their business culture accordingly. It’s not easy and I’m not convinced that they are convinced that there is a great return on doing that to their culture. Is it achievable? I think the question should be “why bother?”. I could be wrong, please comment if you think differently below.
  • Affects Business Transformation‘, well absolutely yes again it’s achievable, it’s what the PMO is there to do. “Transformation presents challenges that must be deliberately and methodically addressed” and we’re back to the tactical and strategic role of the PMO again.

So back to the question – Is the Modern PMO Achievable?

Yes it is, it’s some of these pillars and a whole lot more too.

Many PMOs are already doing it – and probably don’t even see themselves as ‘modern’. At best you could call them the ‘evolving PMO’, there is never an end point to what they can do and where they can go because the business is also evolving.

Like anything announced as ‘modern’ they often go out of date quite quickly or get denounced as gimmicks and that’s the last thing the PMO needs.

If there is one word in that report title that the PMO needs to investigate further its the word ‘change’. I feel another Mini-Masterclass idea coming on…

You can download the report from ca technologies here.

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