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Top Ten Trends in PMO for 2018

It’s that time of year again when we take a look into the possibilities of PMO land next year. We’ve been doing these articles for a couple of years and we don’t tend to be too far out. Take last year’s for example:

Here are last year’s trends (the full article can be found here):

  1. A clearer distinction needed between the PMO Manager and PMO Lead roles.
  2. Looking to other business frameworks, methods, processes and tools that can help the PMO solve problems.
  3. Moving the Agile conversation on the “Agile PMO” into real, practical activity.
  4. More focus on development and learning for PMO.
  5. Unpicking the value debate – understanding what the real issues are.
  6. Changing the PMO language.
  7. Understanding strategy in your business – including formulation.
  8. Change is our business so we need to understand the principles of change management.
  9. Using the right people for the job.
  10. Making small changes that have a real impact.

We’ve certainly started making headways on the Agile PMO stuff; had sessions and insights on the whole value debate; heard a lot about strategy and seen how some PMOs are using change management effectively (the PMO of the Year winners did a great job with this). We’ve also started focusing more on development and learning in a more formal way with the new sister company, PMO Learning, which sees the new AIPMO certification for PMO hit the UK shores in 2018.

So what about next year, is it just more of the same?

Well from the last 12 months of conferences, seminars, listening to industry experts, listening to the people like you who work in the field we think next year will be a good mix of strengthening the basics and evolution of the PMO – regardless of what type of PMO that is. It’s an evolution – more of a gradual change rather than a big bang revolution.

Top Ten Trends for PMOs in 2018

Here’s the predictions for 2018:

  1. Agile PMO will continue to evolve and mature with a recognition that the primary areas of focus aren’t going to be easy
  2. Agility as an ability – the PMO makes a contribution to working in a VUCA world
  3. The penny continues to drop – the PMO doesn’t belong to you, it belongs to the business
  4. A PMO Competency Framework and Assessment… finally! And it’s created by the PMO community.
  5. ? PMO continues – there are more consultancies, training firms, software providers that want your business
  6. Steadying the ship – understanding what the basics are and doing them well
  7. A deeper understanding of lessons, understanding failure and really learning
  8. The PMO Plan – got one for tomorrow, 90 days and 12 months?
  9. A new Value to think about
  10. MARVELlous PMO people

Let’s take a look at whats led us to these:

1. Agile PMO will continue to evolve and mature with a recognition that the primary areas of focus aren’t going to be easy

This was a big topic area at this year’s PMO Symposium in Texas and it’s been a big topic of conversation and head scratching here too. PMI, as is custom, also released their Pulse of the Profession reports to coincide with the Symposium. Normally they’re worth reading but this year not so much. The reports are a little woolly and fluffy, not enough insights which makes us think that PMI haven’t got it cracked either.

Our PMO Manager’s Lunch was all about this topic a few weeks back and there were some really interesting insights (the Report will be out after Christmas) the most interesting for me personally was, actually, supporting Agile and agility in an organisation isn’t easy. It relies on the organisation being great at business case creation and benefits management – probably two of the hardest areas in the project management world today.

At PMO Flashmob we started out looking at this topic with the basics around 3 years ago, this year we started making inroads on the practical elements of what on earth the PMO is supposed to be thinking about and actually doing. Next year we want to go deeper – with process, techniques and approaches that we can learn about and actually do.

2. Agility as an ability – the PMO makes a contribution to working in a VUCA world

We started to hear about the VUCA world this year (Volatile, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity). Apart from me having visions of Spock everytime I hear the term, the connection to the PMO world is that we are part of the solution to organisations having to deal with these situations or new environments.

So that’s where the other term is getting banded around – agility – and it’s all related to:

agility is defined as the capability to quickly sense and adapt to external and internal changes to deliver relevant results in a productive and cost-effective manner.”

You can read all about that definition from the Pulse of the Profession report mentioned above. Organisational agility is where its at and the PMO has a part to play of course.

Some ideas of just where surfaced in a session from the PMO Symposium, it should give you some ideas as to why it’s getting top billing alongside it’s “capital A” relative Agile right now.

3. The penny continues to drop – the PMO doesn’t belong to you, it belongs to the business

The idea about the business driven PMO isn’t new, but the penny dropping still goes on. The number of people who have mentioned to me over the last 6 months following the PMO Conference in the summer and the opening keynote session from Mark Price Perry where he states, very passionately, that the PMO doesn’t belong to you, it belongs to the business. So stop running it like its your own show, pulling in best practice,templates and processes from all over the place – setting up functions and services like its going out of fashion – only to be told by senior executives that we don’t value you and what you’re doing.

It was a kick in the shins – and if you want to watch the whole session, take a look at the webinar we did a few weeks back – the link is in there, hidden like a serpent ready to pounce 🙂 To get a feel for what Mark is all about you can also see the short clip that too many PMO managers will be familar with.

4. A PMO Competency Framework and Assessment… finally! And it’s created by the PMO community.

It’s coming! We’ve been working away in the background since the summer, laying the foundations for creating the first PMO Competency Framework for the PMO profession. Things are starting to ramp up so you’ll see more stuff happening around that after Christmas. The aim is to be ready in time for the PMO Conference in June.

We’ll be updating progress here. You’ll all have chance to see it develop, even get involved yourself.

It’ll be interesting to see where we are next December when it’s been out there for a while.

5. ?PMO continues – there are more consultancies, training firms, software providers that want your business

It’s good news that more and more businesses are catching onto the idea that the world of PMO has a lot going for it. Only this year we saw APM present a new award, PMO of the Year (winners were the Open University!) which might seem a bizarre “new thing” to celebrate in the year 2017 when so many of us have been working in PMO for decades already 🙂 But hey, it is a good thing and no doubt we’ll start to see lots of other good things that can help in your PMO journey and your career progression in the field.

The other great thing about all of these new things that will be available on the market is that you can use PMO Flashmob as a great place to chat with your peers about them and get that personal recommendation and insights. Long may it continue!

6. Steadying the ship – understanding what the basics are and doing them well

We might get our heads turned – like magpies after the shiny new things – like Agile, hybrid, bimodal and so on yet evolution of the basics in PMO is where our bread and butter still is. Talk to project managers and programme managers today and it’s business cases; scheduling; resource management; risk management; governance and assurance which keeps them up at night. Even when we’re head down in the data and reporting we can often forget that it is these staples of project management that can make a real difference to project and programme success.

A few of the conference sessions in the States and here in the UK have given insights into how the PMO can improve on the basics with the use of techniques borrowed from the business analysis, lean and process management world. Even though we don’t think to look at the risk management process with fresh eyes because that’s the way it’s always been done – the reminder that VUCA and organisational agility are the things that senior executives are getting whispered in their ears might give us hints that perhaps now is the time to look again at the what and how we do things to see where improvements can be made.

7. A deeper understanding of lessons, understanding failure and really learning

It’s good to hear that the PMOSIG over at APM are starting to pull together some work around lessons learnt – it’s definitely needed and I don’t know about you but I’m sick of listening to the usual lessons learnt process being trotted out when there’s also a lot of lip service paid to it. It doesn’t work. If there was ever any part of the project lifecycle that needed a revolution its this one.

It’s a potential game changer for PMOs – understanding what is not working on projects and then fixing them. Finding out where the failures are and running experiments and pilots to sort them out.

Matthew Syed sums it up perfectly in his book “Black Box Thinking: The Surprising Truth About Success

“The evolutionary process cannot function without information about what is working and what isn’t”

The book is definitely worth reading if you’re looking to concentrate on making improvements in this area. The way I see it, if the lessons learnt database doesn’t get looked at – isn’t it about time that the insights gathered during the lessons learnt process are proactively acted on and changed, or fixed or scrapped? A perfect job for a PMO to get their teeth into and one which will give much wanted metrics and visible, noticeable change.

8. The PMO Plan – got one for tomorrow, 90 days and 12 months?

Have you ever noticed that a lot of the management guides or action plans always state 90 days? Whether it comes from the 12 step programme (90 meetings in 90 days), the 90-day rule (Whatever you do today, you’ll see the benefits 90 days from now) or the popular career planning book – The First 90 Days. Who knows but one of the stand out things from the PMO Symposium this year was about having an action plan for the PMO.

What are you going to achieve tomorrow, in 90 days and in 12 months?

Made me wonder how many people have a plan like this. Or how about where you have come from and where you are going, like this one. I’d love to see these on the PMO wall. In fact this year I hope we can convince some of you to share them at a future PMO Flashmob event, good idea? And while we are thinking about plans, another neat idea I came across was a PMO regularly performing a SWOT analysis. They used it in their own team meeting, not all the time, just enough to bring everyone together to think through where they are at (the template is from a rather nice website I thought) 9. A new Value to think about Have we had enough yet about the “value the PMO brings to the organisation…” type conversations yet?

There are other “value” related things to explore. Take “Value Proposition”, a term commonly used in the marketing world to a product or service which is attractive to customers. In the Agile world it’s already been adopted to mean the very reason why an organisation exists (so perhaps why a PMO exists?). Value proposition here means:

Value = Benefits – Costs

In this post over on that means value can be increased by either increasing the benefits or reducing the costs. One to think about for the PMO as the article also goes
on to say that understanding and living by the Value Proposition also helps in building a greater team; brings collective ownership and gives purpose. Something else not to be sniffed at by any PMO.

Another “value” to take a look at, the Value Map. Here’s an overview of what that is here but in summary it’s about what you can offer based on cost and perceived value. It’s a case of you get what you pay for. From a PMO point of view I see the Value Map as different service offerings (the cost side) and what the organisation/stakeholders get from that service (perceived value). It’s an interesting angle when it comes to discussing PMO service offerings to the business – a pictorial view of what the PMO can do with limited capability and capacity or indeed, what it can achieve when the sponsorship and backing is there.

Finally there’s the whole industry of Value Management itself (there’s even an association). Here’s their definition:

Value Management is concerned with improving and sustaining a desirable balance between the wants and needs of stakeholders and the resources needed to satisfy them. Stakeholder value judgements vary, and VM reconciles differing priorities to deliver best value for all stakeholders.

Value management has long been something in the construction industry, most of us will know about the associated technique EVM (Earned Value Management) but the bigger question is – what else does the Value Management tribe have to offer which is potentially beneficial to us value-seeking PMO people?

So perhaps when the PMO talks about adding value to the organisation, it should be more about what is the value proposition and how does that work for individual stakeholders as well as the overall organisation. Or going further with that with pictorial demonstrations like the map or going deeper with Value Management techniques.

10. MARVELlous PMO people

I guess this one is about you personally, the person who works in the PMO who wants to do well in their career. Last week I was in New York for a conference (alright, alright, it’s not showing off, I was busy listening to someone I want to bring over to the UK in the summer to do a PMO related workshop, it was fab, tell you about it later)

As part of the conference there was a few references made to Superheros and Superpowers. It’s America, they love stuff like this! Perhaps we need to be equally as unrestrained with our positiveness and good vibes more often (I speak as a naturally reserved English type, a bit like Hugh Grant in Notting Hill)

Anyhow the sessions were about knowing your strengths – and in particular, working on one specific strength – that’s your superpower. A bit like this fella, let’s call him Super Cleaning Guy, his superpower is a cleaning whirlwind!

There was a book recommendation (not had time yet to look at it but its on the list) called Strengths Finder. It made me think about the PMO team – do you know what strengths you do have in the team. Who has what (what superhero are they?) and what might be missing which means you need a new superhero recruited to the team. The other thing here is – can we answer the question about what superpowers we really need – based on what our stakeholders want from the PMO?

So this trend is about us as individuals being able to clearly identify our real key strengths; how to let everyone know about that; how to demonstrate it; ways on how to cultivate it and improve. And hopefully, ways to share that superpower with the rest of the PMO community through PMO Flashmob because we could all do with a little help fighting the kryptonite.

So there we have it – 10 trends for 2018, based on what you and others have been talking about over the last 12 months. Do you agree? Have we missed the obvious? Leave a comment and let us know, even better, let us know your Superhero name or unique superpower 🙂

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