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Top Ten Trends in PMO for 2022

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 year for example:
Last year’s predictions – where we were still in a state of the unknown but could start to see some light at the end of the tunnel with vaccination rollouts [full article here]

  1. Portfolio prioritisation and optimisation really helped organisations pivot and change priorities quickly in 2020, now is the time to optimise the process.
  2. Our world went virtual and dispersed, this year we will consolidate the learnings and improve on how we engage and work with people remotely.
  3. With the launch of the new PMO Competency Framework, understanding where the skills gaps are and the learning & development required to plug the gaps will get easier.
  4. The rise of the PMO Wellbeing Office, not just for pandemics, the PMO is in a prime position to support the health and wellbeing of change colleagues with signposting services.
  5. Agile, Lean, DevOps, product management – bimodal, hybrid delivery, whatever we’re calling it, the PMO is supporting more of it. Education, experience, lessons to be learnt in the successful supporting of them all.
  6. Maturity in the data visualisation aspects of project reporting – we want to build the case for more AI-led technologies in project management but will settle for improving the way data converts to information, insights and action.
  7. Time to take stock and get back to basics – the need to optimise new ways of working and adapt existing for the hybrid office / remote working environment.
  8. Perfecting the art-of-the-gathering, advanced techniques and approaches for making the most out of precious face-to-face time.
  9. Adoption of PMO metrics and measures which help focus on the right things – using OKRs.
  10. Being at the front of the room, time for the PMO to up their game when it comes to public speaking; communicating to senior executives; facilitating sessions and being visible.

We’re certainly not at the end of the tunnel yet but those portfolio management processes have certainly helped organisations stay on track but optimising them is still a work in progress. Working virtually has become a new work habit and one which people are more than comfortable with – but perhaps there needs to be more focus on the well-being side because lots of us are spending way too much time meeting rather than doing.
During this year we’ve seen the PMO concentrate on the basics and doing them well – keeping the lights on rather than spending too much time and commitment on new initiatives or improvements. We still have a way to go on the data-related aspects of our work and we’re still trying to find the right solutions to better support our organisations’ journey through bringing all the different delivery methods together, in effect creating an environment that enables more agility and flexibility around delivering change.
So what will 2022 bring? We’ve pulled together our top ten based on all the knowledge being shared from PMO events; PMO Flashmob, webinars, blogger comments; virtual meetups and little pockets of conversation here and there. Here’s what we have:

PMO Trends for 2022

Here are the new predictions for 2022, what will it have in store for us?

  1. The PMO has shown great resilience over the year, something which came as a welcomed surprise, and something that they will continue to draw on and utilise.
  2. Keeping a check on providing the core services from the PMO and delivering these exceptionally well.
  3. Driving initiatives with good project management practice, being an exemplar when it comes to change.
  4. Old ways of thinking about new ways of working  – from in-person to virtual to hybrid
  5. The other hybrid challenge – data-driven, value-driven and the role of the PMO
  6. The whole delivery environment – a leap forward for the Centre of Excellence.
  7. The PMO – a hub for citizen developers
  8. Taking ownership for self-development through self-assessment
  9. DIY maturity assessments – the PMO does-it-themselves
  10. Focus on PMO leadership

Let’s take a look at those and find out more about them:


The PMO has shown great resilience over the year, something which came as a welcomed surprise, and something that they will continue to draw on and utilise.

When we first started seeing each other face to face again at PMO Flashmob, we asked the question about what PMOs had learnt about themselves over the last 18 months of lockdowns and reopening. There were a lot of positives – in fact, there was a lot of stories about overcoming adversity. They found that the PMO could survive reorganisations and reshuffles, that they had optimism about the future and the fact that their organisations had started to stop seeing them as the PMO police.
There were stories of supporting each other through the upheavals and stresses; that a sense of humour was crucial; they really did appreciate their good leaders and perhaps it takes something like a pandemic to really see the best that people can offer and the support they can give.
Resilience is all about being able to overcome or recover quickly from difficulties – to have a toughness, in this case, mentally to face adversity. We certainly learnt a lot about the realities of this from this year’s opening keynote at the PMO Conference from the COVID-19 Vaccination Rollout Programme Central PMO team – they had resilience in spades!
In 2022, as we continue to experience lots of uncertainty, perhaps we can learn more about resilience and what kind of skills the PMO could actively seek to adopt. Dr Ginsburg (2005) created something called the 7 C’s of Resilience, components which make up being resilient. These include competence, confidence, connection, character, contribution, coping and control. Certainly, something the PMO could investigate further and understand how the Cs apply to them as individuals and as a team.


Keeping a check on providing the core services from the PMO and delivering these exceptionally well.

It might seem an obvious one, and perhaps something we’ve included on lots of our trends over the years but it has a new focus or perspective. Another lesson learnt from reflection on the PMOs work throughout the pandemic has been that their organisations appreciate it when the core services offered are perfectly aligned or in-tune with what the business might need at any given time.
It’s the ability of the PMO to be flexible and adaptable, adding a few tweaks to the core services with minimal fuss and fanfare.
It’s also about the PMO being able to anticipate, even get ahead of or in front of what changes might be coming down the line. A PMO should be in a position to be able to provide options for possible solutions rather than lagging behind.
There will continue to be a focus on the concept of service management – the whole concept of services becoming increasingly embedded, which in turn allows a stronger link to the development of metrics and tangible outcomes of providing a service-based approach. A PMO with a defined purpose will also allow stronger links to other PMOs within the business and a clearer relationship between them.
For a while now, the service-based approach to PMOs has been from the bottom up – we define and create the services that the business should have from the PMO. Now we’re seeing a more top-down approach – really understanding what the business needs, and then creating the services to support that.
Does your PMO know what services are considered to be the core? – does it do them exceptionally well? Does it know how those core services might change over time?


Driving initiatives with good project management practice, being an exemplar when it comes to change.

The PMO have always had their own initiatives or projects to manage – think project management tool implementations as a prime example. Yet many of these initiatives don’t use the methods or processes that the PMO is often advising project managers to use. In other words, they need to be leading by example – and being an exemplar.
Initiatives will continue to emerge from targeted areas within the PMO – whether it be tool-related; a new process, systems, training and so on. One big change this year has been the realisation that the PMO can really utilise the agile approach to developing projects – working incrementally; picking items off the backlog; regular reviews through standups and retros. The projects PMOs have to manage don’t have to use the waterfall approach and that’s been a real game-changer.
The great thing about the initiatives that need managing in the PMO is that it is giving PMO practitioners some real hands-on experience of managing their own projects, something that can really help in their ongoing work supporting programmes and projects within the organisation. A real win-win.
We’re really pleased to have a new lodger who specialises in PMO tools, and throughout 2022 we’ll be hearing all about it in the Tool Shed.


Old ways of thinking about new ways of working  – from in-person to virtual to hybrid.

If there is one thing we’ve learnt over the last year or so, it’s how quickly we can adapt when we need to. We went from all being in the office to working and communicating virtually (with different degrees of success). Now, we’re still in the unknown with the ongoing pandemic affecting our working lives.
There will be an increase in the hybrid way of working – which essentially means the blend of some of the team in the office, some of the time – whilst others remain at home. The old way of working – fixed hours and fixed locations – will take some time to overcome in our thinking about what to do differently now.
There are three core areas we need to focus on in the hybrid working world – how the PMO will work with the different management systems; how leadership practices need to change and communication processes.
We need to think about the services we currently offer and how some of these we may have to do differently; stop doing or just leave as they are.
We have to be aware of behaviours that may have an adverse effect on the team – such as presenteeism (those working at home are easily out of sight and out of mind and treated differently)
We need to think about what makes people happy in their roles – to be able to empower and trust them to do their work. Let the team have control over their own hours and stop measuring inputs (hours worked) and start measuring outputs (achieving their outcomes). A happy team of people can lead to a high performing one. Highlighted in a recent article about Agile Transformation was a book called Drive.  It’s all about what really motivates people at work – there are three main parts. Autonomy – the ability to drive one’s own life, mastery – to be able to learn and create and purpose – be better by ourselves and the world around us. It’s time to really think about how we can get teams working together at an optimal level in the new ways of working.
Finally, we should be thinking about what the culture of our PMO actually is and how it aligns to the organisation culture. What is the direction that the organisation is taking in new ways of working and how does your PMO take that and demonstrate it through behaviours, attitudes, practical application and so on? If your PMO is surviving and thriving in a post-pandemic world – how is it doing that and what example is it setting to the rest of the delivery organisation?


The other hybrid challenge – data-driven, value-driven and the role of the PMO.

We heard the phrase all the time – delivering with hybrid approaches – which means a bit of waterfall, some Agile, product management, DevOps – if fact anything that helps us deliver quicker and more successfully.
These combinations have certainly brought some challenges to the PMO – we’re operating in a more complex world, with lots of instability, not just created by the pandemic but world economics, changes in how people work and societal changes.
With the launch of the PMO Competency Framework, we included reference to the Cynefin framework to reflect the space the PMO operates in today. When we look at the three main hot topics of data-driven, value-driven and business agility – all of these are impacting the way projects get delivered – and because the PMO is there to support projects, they are all areas that will have a significant impact on the PMO over the next 12 months.
The PMO can choose to wait, do nothing for a while until it finds itself lagging behind the organisation, or it can try something, embrace the principles of experimentation and start getting a feel for what data, value and agility really mean for the delivery organisation. There is one thing that is really clear, no-one seems to have all the right answers – no research or business analytics firms seem to be leading the way or providing clear guidance yet. It’s time for the PMO to step up and start the conversation, do the research and work through the unknown unknowns.


The whole delivery environment – a leap forward for the Centre of Excellence.

Is it time to take another look at the whole concept of the Centre of Excellence? We certainly think so when we consider the hybrid nature of portfolios, programmes and projects. The Centre of Excellence (CoE) has always been seen as the part of the PMO or delivery organisation where standards are set, methods are created, processes laid out and templates produced. The CoE for some larger organisations is a PMO in its own right, concentrating on these activities 100% of the time. In other smaller organisations, it becomes part of any type of PMO where standards could have a permanent home.
Today the project management landscape is much bigger than just projects, it’s also about programmes, portfolios, technical departments delivering products, and initiatives in business-as-usual departments. There is much talk about the whole project management environment or eco-system in an organisation and what is included in that eco-system and crucially from a PMO point of view – how that is supported
There is a real danger that business-as-usual initiatives and DevOps become managed outside the project management landscape (what good practice and lessons will be lost!) yet the PMO is perfectly placed to help support any type of change, regardless of where it happens in the business. This should be the part of the remit for Centres of Excellence, they need to put their arms around all types of change activity, regardless of where it is, how it’s being delivered and what levels of support it needs.
It’s time for the Centre of Excellence model to be put under the spotlight and questions asked about its fitness for purpose – is it still relevant in the way it operates today? Is it capable of providing the right outcomes in a complex world? What steps do we need to take to make it more relevant to all the sections of the organisation it should be serving? It’s time for the CoE to take a big leap forward.


The PMO – a hub for citizen developers

Another step forward next year on the whole data and AI side of the PMO. A citizen developer is defined as:

“An employee who creates application capabilities for consumption by themselves or others, using tools not actively forbidden by IT”

One of the difficulties we’ve already uncovered in this area (see the Inside PMO Report) is the ability to utilise low/no-code platforms because the IT department hadn’t sanctioned the use of this kind of software. PMOs have started to use Microsoft based systems specifically because of this issue and development using Microsoft Automate, Power Apps and PowerBI has started to take off.
If your PMO has been struggling to get some experimentation off the ground in this area – or perhaps you’ve not yet identified who in the PMO would relish this kind of opportunity, there is even a course available from PMI called PMI Citizen Developer Foundation to get you started.
The great thing about this, it might just sound like a new wrapper for something which you’ve been trying to get off the ground for the last couple of years – but at least it gives another opening on which to have conversations with the business – ‘can we talk about how the PMO  can help the business move forward on data-driven decision making by becoming a hub for citizen development?’


Taking ownership for self-development through self-assessment

With the launch of the PMO Competency Framework in 2021 came the opportunity for PMO practitioners to assess themselves against a standard for the first time. For PMO practitioners who like to take an active interest in their career development – the use of a self-assessment has enabled them to target self-development activities to help close their skills gaps.
There’s also the opportunity for practitioners to take their self-development into their own hands rather than relying on the organisation to determine which training or development is required for their PMO staff. For those that rely on self-funding for their development – previous time, money and focus is not wasted when pinpointing what development to do based on a self-assessment.
With the 70:20:10 model often used to illustrate what kind of development options are available for people (70% on the job / 20% from your manager and 10% formal training), the changes we’ve experienced over the last 18 months have shown that the 10% formal training should really be broken down further.
PMO practitioners are doing less formal training – more like 5%, with 5% being picked up by Dr Google and other online bite-sized, often uncurated content. There’s also less on-the-job training available in the workplace because we’re not in the workplace as much anymore and you could argue that there is less manager-driven development because of things like presenteeism.
It’s up to all of us to take an active interest in our own development and 2022 should start with an industry-led self-assessment.
You can take your assessment with the PMO Competency Framework book or do it online when you become a member of the House of PMO.


DIY maturity assessments – the PMO does-it-themselves

Many organisations opt for P3M3 assessments to give them insights into how mature their operations are around project delivery – and where and how improvements could be made.

The Portfolio, Programme, and Project Management Maturity Model (P3M3) provides a framework for organizations to assess and benchmark their current performance and effectively develop plans for improvement. AXELOS

The P3M3 route can be expensive and take a considerable length of time and committment however there are other ways for the PMO to gain an understanding of where their organisations are in terms of maturity and that’s by offering a Do-It-Yourself option.
With P3M3 there is an option to self-assess and its this one which PMOs are looking into – it’s about gaining a greater understanding of what’s involved in a maturity assessment like this without having to gain approval for a full blown assessment carried out by consultants. There’s also other popular ones to take a look at too – such as CMM and the Project Management Maturity Model (PMMM) from Harold Kerzner.
With a great understanding of maturity models, the PMO can also create their own using others as a reference point.
Interestingly we’re starting to see some PMOs adopting PPM maturity models to help them think about the PMO’s maturity too. There’s still a debate about whether the PMO should bother looking inwards at itself – what’s the point of a mature PMO in an immature organisation – surely it should be about the organisation being able to deliver successfully – not just the PMO!
PMOs are looking at maturity models because by their very nature it provides a link to measures – and gives an insight into how the PMO services are contributing to project success. A PMO maturity assessment would also give insights into what services the PMO should be looking to amend or add both in the long and short term. A Do-It-Yourself PMO assessment enables the PMO to take what might be a gut instinct about what they’re doing is helping the business meet its strategic goals and start to monitor performance more objectively and ultimately have those quantative measures to drive the right behaviours, skills and services forward.


Focus on PMO leadership

At the end of 2021 we choose the theme of PMO Leadership for our PMO Managers Lunch. This is an annual event which gets PMO Managers around a table and they just talk about their experiences on a given topic – we record that and then create a report called Inside PMO.
What has become clear over the years is that there has never been a focus on leadership specifically within a PMO setting. We know that PMOs tend to be unique to organisations – and much of this is often down to the person who creates and leads them. We also know that PMOs have different levels and types of accountability and responsibility – how does this really affect how they are led?
There have been lots of changes over the last 18 months in terms of how teams are managed and led – but what are these changes? What has been the impact?
We see many people coming into the position of PMO Manager – perhaps leading a team for the first time – where is advice from the people who have gone before?
PMO leadership will certainly become a trend for 2022 because we’ve decided to put a spotlight on it and uncover those insights from real people doing the role today. Watch this space!
That’s our trends predictions for 2022, 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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