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Is Your PMO Ready To Lead?


UMT360’s own Ben Chamberlain presents the keynote at this year’s Project Management Days event in Helsinki.

I was invited to be the keynote speaker at this year’s Project Management Days in Helsinki. It was an honor to kick off this event in front of hundreds of project management professionals from around the world. But I have to admit to wondering how my presentation would resonate with the an audience comprised largely of folks who don’t share my native tongue. (Of course, some who know me would argue that an Englishman living in the U.S. must already have plenty of experience communicating with people who don’t speak his language.)

I’m happy to report that an understanding of the emerging trends driving the transformation of the PMO is not constrained by language. Indeed, the feedback to my presentation from many of the attendees at the Project Management Days event is strikingly similar to the reaction we’ve been getting whenever we’ve discussed the impact that digitalization is having on the world of PPM.

Project, Program or Capabilities?

When it comes to planning methodology, about 40% of the project management professionals we ask tell us they use a project-based investment approach. Another 25% or so use a program-driven approach, which indicates a bit more maturity. Very few organizations have yet to make the transition to a capabilities-based approach, which is where the fully mature PMO can really begin to generate maximum business value. But most of the organizations I speak with are aspiring to adopt this approach as a foundation to helping to digitize their business.

Dynamic Planning has appeal, but most still set-it-and-forget it

About 60% of the folks we ask still use the old “set-it-and-forget-it” approach to planning. And while everyone agrees that it would help maximize portfolio value, only a few have yet to fully embrace dynamic planning. But for those that have adopted a more dynamic approach, the impact on their business has been significant.

Realization sets in – tracking benefits requires strategic approach

Benefits realization is another area of interest for the project management professionals we talk to. But surprisingly, 60% have no mechanism for tracking benefits realized. Those that do a good job in this area have embraced a more strategic approach and have integrated financial data and powerful business controls into their PPM process to give them the visibility and insight they need.

Digitalization is key

No matter where I go or who I talk to, that’s always a common thread. The PMO organizations that embrace a more strategic role within their organizations and recognize the need for better tools are the ones setting the pace for everyone else. They understand that emerging trends like digitalization are changing the very fabric of today’s business. But no digitalization strategy can succeed without a strong PPM discipline.

And that’s the message that came through loud and clear from everyone I spoke with at the Project Management Days event. The PMO is in the driver’s seat. Your business is looking for leadership to help them drive a digital transformation. There’s only question. Is are your PMO ready?