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Top Ten Trends in PMO for 2020

It’s that time of year again when we take a look into the possibilities and opportunities in the PMO world this year. We’ve been doing these articles for a couple of years and we don’t tend to be too far out. Take last years for example:
Here are last year’s trends (the full article can be found here):

  1. Project data analytics really cannot be ignored and 2019 is the year where we start to learn what it is all about and how the PMO can utilise it.
  2. Making the case for automation – machine learning, AI and robotic process automation need to be understood before the PMO works out how to embrace it.
  3. More coaching skills needed – Agile has driven the need, facilitation and using coaching approaches helps PMO practitioners to beef up their behavioural skills.
  4. PMO Competency Framework and Assessments will be talked about a lot!
  5. Storytelling and the visualisation of data – learning analytics paves the way for improving the articulation of insights.
  6. Creating PMO principles for your PMO – using them to navigate unchartered waters and providing a strong ethical and moral foundation.
  7. Digital PMO – ready to work in a digital environment and applying digital ways of working to the PMO itself. Embracing a multitude of delivery approaches.
  8. Metrics and measures for the PMO – understanding how the PMO knows it has been successful and delivering what the business needs.
  9. Pastoral care to meet the personal, social (wellbeing) and development needs of PMO staff and the wider organisation.
  10. Utilising PMO skills but not in a PMO role – new positions continue being created without the PMO label.

We’ve certainly seen and got involved with a lot of the project data analytics stuff in 2019 and it was a year of starting to understanding the basics and unravel some of the terms and meanings around analytics. Same goes for the automation, there’s not been many PMOs using automation in the workplace but the curiosity is there. There were pockets of coaching related activity and good to see informal coaching happening between people who have met through PMO Flashmob too. We didn’t make as much progress on the competency framework as we would have liked but check out 2020! Data storytelling was covered again at the PMO Conference and we’ve also touched on data visualisation too. You told us that data visualisation has been one of the main focus areas for the PMO during 2019. It’s been great to hear people talking about their PMO principles; the pastoral care activities and on the flip-side, the metrics and measures report kickstarted discussion and new ideas.
So what will 2020 bring? We’ve pulled together our top ten based on all the knowledge being shared from PMO conferences; PMO Flashmobs, webinars, blogger comment; virtual meetups and little pockets of conversation here and there. Here’s what we have:

  1. BOTS start to become a new member of the PMO team – focused on the mundane, repetitive tasks, it’s not changing our world, just making us think about which processes and work activities can be offloaded.
  2. A PMO data strategy arrives – following the first steps into project data analytics, we realise that we need decent data and that means having a strategy and a plan.
  3. More non-project people coming into the PMO role – especially at a senior level to manage the portfolio and enterprise-level PMO functions. The business experience will be key.
  4. An increase in smaller, boutique-type PMO consultancies in the marketplace – following the IR35 changes within the private sector, the consultancy model will be the way to go.
  5. As Agile mindsets becomes more established so will the PMO’s – formalising hybrid methods, processes, approaches, tools and working in the enterprise’s chosen framework.
  6. Picking off the PMO services, refreshing, energising, stopping, starting – which services you choose to focus on will be driven by your business stakeholders.
  7. Challenging long-established views and opinions about the PMO – now’s the time to call out the naysayers using your confidence, enthusiasm and passion for PMO. It’s 2020, we’ve changed and we’re not going anywhere.
  8. One big change – setting objectives and targets for the PMO for the next year and beyond, it needs to include one big hairy audacious challenge to keep everyone motivated and all eyes on the PMO.
  9. Three years on, the PMO still needs to up their involvement in making change stick – back in 2017 we made the case for the PMO to be more closely aligned in supporting change managers, what are we waiting for?
  10. Increased confidence leads to increased investments in businesses – leads to increased confidence in the employment and training & development fields, time to switch jobs?

Let’s take a look at those and find out more about them:
One: BOTS start to become a new member of the PMO team – focused on the mundane, repetitive tasks, it’s not changing our world, just making us think about which processes and activities can be offloaded.
Robotic process automation (RPA) has been talked about a lot in 2019. It was covered at the PMO Conference; we’ve covered it at PMO Flashmob; we’ve been introduced to the art of the possible through Project:Hack events and meetups – we’re finally getting it, the penny has dropped. Basically it’s Excel macros on steroids with some programming skills required. I’m sure the IT department will see it differently but it is possible and PMOs are starting to see how this quote from Gartner may be more than just polishing off the crystal ball.

Gartner predicts that by 2030, artificial intelligence (AI) technologies will perform as much as 80% of the PMO’s traditional day-to-day work, such as data collection, tracking and reporting

PMO Flashmob: we’ll be launching our next Inside PMO Report in March this year which brings insights from the PMO Manager’s Lunch on using RPA in the PMO. We’ll also be talking about that at the next Project Challenge event in March and of course, at future PMO Flashmob events.
Two: A PMO data strategy arrives – following the first steps into project data analytics, we realise that we need decent data and that means having a strategy and a plan.
It’s time to start taking a deeper look into project data analytics and how we can utilise the different technologies and approaches and that means overcoming the biggest challenge: clean and useable data. To do that we need a strategy and a plan. Is it the job of the PMO? Perhaps not solely but we need to be driving discussions about how project data is collected, stored and maintained – after all, we’re there to support decision-making and we need decent base data to do that.
PMO Flashmob: We’ll be looking at this subject closer at a PMO Flashmob during 2020.
Three: More non-project people coming into the PMO role – especially at a senior level to manage the portfolio and enterprise-level PMO functions. The business experience will be key.
We’ve already seen a lot of this over the last year and no doubt we’ll be seeing much more of it too – this is all about people currently working in senior business operation roles (run the business) who are increasingly working on changing the business. It’s the business experience they have that drives this positional change – and with a knowledge injection of portfolio management practices they’re heading up some of the most high-profile PMO roles.
Four: An increase in smaller, boutique-type PMO consultancies in the marketplace – following the IR35 changes within the private sector, the consultancy model will be the way to go.
It’s already happened in the public sector, and 2020, sees big changes in the private sector for PMO contractors. There’s already a great blog post from Arras People about the changes, and what options people have. We’re already hearing about some PMO contractor plans whilst networking at PMO Flashmob, it’s a mixed bag of either going with the flow and seeing how it all pans out; some thinking about permanent roles again and for others, an opportunity to take their offerings up to the next level and operating a small, specialised PMO consultancy business. We’ll see evidence of that after April, how long they’ll be operating for – it is a big stepped change from contracting – remains to be seen, the cream will always rise to the top as they say.
Five: As Agile mindsets becomes more established so will the PMO’s – formalising hybrid methods, processes, approaches, tools and working in the enterprise’s chosen framework.
It’s gone beyond the project level, Agile has gone “at Scale” which means the Agie mindset is being adopted across the whole portfolio of change activities in an organisation. With many established frameworks to choose from – SAFe still seems to be the most popular – organisations are starting the embedding process and alongside the procedural changes are the behavioural changes. The PMO has a role to play and much work to carry out to help the embedding process and to get on board with how everything from project delivery to portfolio prioritisation – changes, stays the same or simply seizes to exist.
PMO Flashmob: We covered a session early in 2019 on the different Agile frameworks, now we’re starting to see those becoming a reality in the PMO’s world.
Six: Picking off the PMO services, refreshing, energising, stopping, starting – which services you choose to focus on will be driven by your business stakeholders.
For many established PMOs, the mantra is all about continuous improvements and making sure the PMO is still relevant in the areas that matter the most to the business. That means concentrating precious resources, time and budget in the right areas. The AIPMO PMO Lifecycle Framework has put much emphasis on the services and capabilities of the PMO – the bread and butter of what we do – and making sure the services we offer continue to be needed, used and fit-for-purpose.
For the PMO that means being able to audit the PMO offering; use the right metrics and measures to demonstrate effectiveness; and invest and commission the right services at the right time.
PMO Flashmob: We’ve decided to focus on a lot more of the PMO services in PMO Flashmob events and webinars this year – we kick off in January with benefits management and assurance.
Seven: Challenging long-established views and opinions about the PMO – now’s the time to call out the naysayers using your confidence, enthusiasm and passion for PMO. It’s 2020, we’ve changed and we’re not going anywhere.
We continue to hear about the negativity around PMO and it occurred to us that many views today seem to still be based on the type of the PMO that was popular over a decade ago. Perhaps that was the last time some PMs work with one?! Whatever the reason, the PMO community is strong – the career in PMO is more popular than ever – there are professional certifications and training programmes available – there are conferences/meetups to attend and awards to be won.
2020, the start of a new decade is the right time to be challenging those views and calling those people out. How are they going to work better with your PMO rather than peddling their experiences from years back. PMOs will be using their successful outcomes – evidenced by the metrics and measures they’ve put in place last year – to change the script so we can all move on and work better in the future.
PMO Flashmob: It’s the place really to surround yourself with the enthusiasm and passion for PMO from other people who attend, if you’re fed up of the naysayers, come along to events and be prepared for a healthy dose of PMO positivity and how you can sprinkle it back at the ranch.
Eight: One big change – setting objectives and targets for the PMO for the next year and beyond, it needs to include one big hairy audacious challenge to keep everyone motivated and all eyes on the PMO.
It’s nice to dream, even better to have a play with a new idea and see where it can take you. 2019 was all about encouraging PMO practitioners to be curious – to explore how their PMO could do things differently. 2020 is all about exploring the OKR inspired concept of setting stretch goals or “moonshots”. Or the phrase we rather like, a big hairy audacious challenge.
It’s certainly a great team motivator and definitely something to get the PMO noticed by the organisation as it makes the quest for success.
Nine: Three years on, the PMO still needs to up their involvement in making change stick – back in 2017 we made the case for the PMO to be more closely aligned in supporting change managers, what are we waiting for?
This was one of the trends that never materialised when we made the prediction three years ago and still there is a lack of change specialists in the PMO – that those PMO practitioners who are skilled, knowledgeable and qualified to work alongside Change Managers specifically in ‘management of change’. Will 2020 be the year that the PMO embraces the opportunity to gain the experience of the elements that really make change stick – the people side?
Ten: Increased confidence leads to increased investments in businesses – leads to increased confidence in the employment and training & development fields, time to switch jobs?
There’s no doubt about the impact on work of the political landscape in the UK over the last three years. Regardless of your political persuasion, at the end of 2019, it felt like a deadlock was loosening and the frustration and annoyance we’ve all been feeling changed a little. Businesses have been holding back on making investments – and with investments comes change and projects. By the end of 2020 we’re predicting an upswing in PMO roles being available and more investment in personal development, let’s hope our bold trend – or is that big, audacious trend – benefits us all.
That’s our trends predictions for 2020, how about you? Any missing? What would you add?
Leave your comments below and share your thoughts with the PMO Flashmobbers.

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