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Evolving From Tactical To Strategic PMO

(Part one of a series on the forces helping to drive a tactical to strategic transformation of the PMO.)

For decades now, the PMO has been typically focused on tactical execution. Which is what made the keynote address at this year’s PMO Symposium – by one of the world’s foremost authorities on competitive advantage – so fascinating. As I listened to Harvard Business School Professor Dr. Michael E. Porter’s presentation, some ideas occurred to me about the gaps between strategy and execution that are way too prevalent in today’s enterprise program and portfolio management (EPPM).

Writing about EPPM, Gartner calls for “a new paradigm of executing strategy rather than executing projects*”. But what they’re really describing is what I call the Strategic PMO. And as organizations continue to struggle to derive maximum value from enterprise projects, programs and portfolios, we’re beginning to see the emergence of the Strategic PMO.

Which brings us back to Dr. Porter**, who redefined the way that businesses think about competition and corporate strategy. These basic concepts which Dr. Porter shared with the PMO Symposium audience help explain how to establish a sustainable competitive advantage:

  1. Differentiation – stake out a unique position and offer something nobody else can
  2. Effective trade-offs – choose what to focus on and what not to focus on
  3. Fit – ensure every activity is aligned both with strategy and with other activities
  4. Systemic sustainability – understand that the entire system of enterprise activities cannot be decoupled from the enterprise strategy
  5. Operational Effectiveness – perform and utilize its inputs better. While this is necessary it is not sufficient.

For many organizations, a gap still exists between high level strategy and project implementation. I see an opportunity for the PMO to harness Dr. Porter’s ideas to help bridge this gap. I’ll spend the next few weeks right here on the UMT360 blog sharing my thoughts on how all of this fits together.

In my next post, I’ll discuss some ideas about Connecting Strategy to Execution.

*Fitzgerald, D. (2014). Market Guide for Enterprise PPM Solutions . Gartner.
**Porter, M. E. (1996). What Is Strategy? Harvard Business Review.