PMO Purgatory – You Can Transition to ‘The Other Side’

It’s an ePMO Manager’s worst nightmare: Occupying that place between compliance and reporting vs the ability to drive real value into an organisation’s delivery capability. But it is possible to navigate through to the other side.

It’s not a place that any of us want to be: Suspended in the no-man’s land that exists between abiding by the compliance and reporting requirements of project delivery versus actually driving the value into the organisation’s delivery capability.

However, it’s a place that many ePMOs find themselves: Knowing that crisp reporting is very much required but getting stuck when it becomes the over-riding focus and makes the transition into an ePMO that drives real delivery excellence and business value a significant challenge.

As the rapid rise of all things digital continues to force business into a constant state of change – and therefore, new types of projects – it requires a more responsive ePMO to rapidly adapt and transform ‘fit-for-purpose’ processes that increasingly different opportunities require.

If a business wants to thrive and prosper, it’s an essential function to allow it to thrive in changing market conditions that it operates in.

However, a notable feature of the dynamic and changeable marketplace is that they often spring up overnight, so how can the ePMO be prepared for and ensure the organisation’s projects are able to deliver business value within a landscape of such ambiguity?

Getting Comfortable with – and Embracing – Ambiguity

The reality for most organisations is that they need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable to ensure that they can embrace ambiguity and then innovate, adapt, and morph as required. Many traditional business structures are hierarchical and were built to support the post-industrial revolution approach to mass production. It’s in this ‘traditional’, comfortable business structure that an ePMO will sit easily because it is also traditionally structured.

But in this ‘new world’ where ambiguity and uncertainty co-exist, this type of ePMO might just be doomed from the start if it focuses primarily on methodology and reporting. Both are incredibly important, but neither will deliver real, tangible business value when executing projects designed to capitalise on a rapidly changing business landscape.

Defining the Vision of the ‘Other Side’

It’s this traditional and ‘comfortable’ environment that wedges an ePMO firmly in purgatory. Simply put, there’s no other side to transition to when it gets set in its ways. That means that there must be an understanding of what the ‘other side’ looks like to facilitate the transition from traditional and comfortable to adaptive and innovative, which is where the ePMO can add value in the new project world dominated by fast-paced Agile and digital projects.

We would argue that the most successful ePMOs and modern-day organisations are those which have a strong vision of what the organisation wants to be, a little strategy of how the organisation will achieve its vision, and a lot of capability to enable the business to deliver.

If we are correct, then this insight might just be the light bulb moment the PMO needs to transition.

Where We Focus is Where We Go

If the ePMO places an emphasis on understanding what capabilities the organisation needs to deliver its vision, manages projects against the vision and provides the contextual link between strategy and capability, it might just have half a chance. Vision doesn’t change too often but strategies do. Capabilities, like vision, are also less dynamic.

Getting the organisation to understand and establish the capabilities it needs to respond rapidly to new markets, new threats, digital disruption etc. and then assessing and supporting projects to deliver those capabilities (whatever they may be in the circumstances) to successfully deliver the projects will position the ePMO front and centre in the business, deliver tangible value, and provide a solid pathway to their other side.

Capability and Capacity – Twin Drivers for Success

We estimate that 50% of projects we review are challenged because the organisations do not have the necessary capabilities and capacities in place to deliver the slate of projects. This may be because the right people are not in the marketplace to be engaged.

An equally compelling explanation is perhaps the business does not understand the capabilities they need are and have in fact engaged the wrong people. If this is the case, step forward the ePMO. By putting together the Witches brew of Vision, Strategy and Capability it might be the body that does go on to become the central focus for the organisation to stay ahead of the delivery game. And that will lead it out of purgatory.

Want to talk to us about setting your ePMO up for success? Contact us here or call 02 9098 6300.

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2018-02-20T18:23:31+00:00By |Project Management Office|