Traditional PMOs have had a focus on processes, methods, and monitoring, which has often led them to be seen as highly bureaucratic, low-added-value units with little connection to what matters to the organization. In addition, PMO units have always been designed as a box in a hierarchy, which is an outdated structure for a world driven by change.
My research with HBR shows that 52 percent of companies have an established project management department but only 23 percent have a PMO, which is the engine that should coordinate the company’s entire change-the-business dimension.
The new version of the PMO will have a much stronger focus on value creation through driving change and strategy. Its role must evolve into a Strategy Implementation Office, helping senior leaders with the prioritization, selection, and implementation of their key initiatives. The new PMO will also have a series of top project managers, which will act as CEOs of the most complex and transformative initiatives. They will be in charge not only of delivering the project, but also ensuring that the benefits are achieved, faster than planned when possible. We will also see new types of PMOs that are more agile, less static, and often temporary, appearing to support portfolios of projects and agile initiatives, then disappearing when the projects are over.
The most advanced PMOs have merged with the Strategic planning department, to what some companies call the Strategy Implementation Office. They have a series of project managers, often the best in the company, who is in charge of leading the most complex and transversal initiatives. Often the office reports to the CEO, so it is sometimes called a CEO office. Most large organizations today have a CEO office.
In addition, we will soon see data analytics and automation start-ups help organizations streamline and optimize the role of the PMO. The most famous case is French President Macron’s using the latest technology to maintain up-to-date information about all the French public-sector projects. The use of new intelligent tools will radically transform the way PMOs operate, with a number of benefits:
· Better monitoring of project progress, complementing the input from project managers
· The capability to anticipate potential issues, and addressing some simple ones automatically
· Improved preparation and distribution of project reports along with capturing feedback
· Greater sophistication in selecting the best project management methodology for each project
* Extract from HBR Project Management Handbook, HBR Press Sep 2021, by Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez