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Project Portfolio Management

Become an Adaptive PMO: Advance Agility Across Planning and Delivery

A roadmap for the PMO’s transition to a more flexible, resilient organization

Published By Linda Roach

What’s the top factor for future success according to nearly 4,000 project managers, PMOs, and executives? The answer may not surprise you: “Organizational agility.” The Project Management Institute (PMI) asked this question for the first time ever for its 2020 Pulse of the Profession® report, knowing that organizations are rewiring to innovate and deliver competitive products and services quickly.

Executives expect PMOs to be the catalyst for this change. Success requires becoming a more “Adaptive PMO,” evolving how you plan, govern, and empower delivery teams to do their best work. This transition can be uncertain, but Planview is working with PMOs to make it easier as this new video demonstrates.

Since every organization is different, you need to find your PMO’s optimal path to facilitate agility and deliver strategic outcomes faster. It starts with understanding where you are today and identifying which capabilities to shift as you move forward. This is important, because achieving agility is not an all-or-nothing transition.

Organizations increase agility on a continuum. This graphic depicts the progression of becoming more agile across planning and delivery. It shows the evolution from a traditional portfolio management approach to a modern or lean portfolio management state.

With this in mind, here’s your roadmap to becoming an Adaptive PMO: One that is more flexible and resilient as business requirements, goals, and strategies rapidly shift.

Move toward continuous planning and incremental funding

Organizations cannot operate at speed if they are beholden to annual plans and budgets. Adaptive PMOs embrace continuous planning and dynamic funding so they can pivot quickly as conditions change, products die, priorities shift, and new, promising ideas arise. Funding models must evolve from projects to products, initiatives, and value streams that shift quickly in response to customer demands.

This is a major transformation not just for the PMO, but also for many in the organization. From finance to the C-suite, professionals must adjust the way they have been working for years if not decades. The Adaptive PMO takes a leadership role by helping everyone move to a state where the organization is constantly delivering value to the business.

Become an adaptive pmo

Shift from a project-centric approach to programs and products

The complexity of orchestrating enterprise-wide programs across people, teams, departments, and ways of working cannot be overstated. This is why managing by project no longer suffices for PMOs.

For example, Agile teams are using product-based delivery models to speed up value creation. Their work contributes mostly to digital products and services, where frequent updates and ensuring an outstanding customer experience are paramount.

To support these teams and others, modern PMOs shift their focus to delivering customer value as the outcome rather than merely executing on-time and on-budget. This requires broadening their perspective to manage programs – not projects – and incorporating everything required for the outcome such as technologies, services, applications, solutions, products, locations, and other essentials.

Provide ‘just enough’ governance

The need for some oversight in this brave new world is why PMOs are well-suited for the job. Agility is impossible without effective strategy, planning, and alignment to business goals – ideally on a continuous basis. Freed from the responsibility of day-to-day execution, PMOs can focus on ensuring that the highest value work is being done, on strategy.

For instance, Agile project teams have the autonomy to determine their own workflow processes as well as what tasks and work to prioritize. When multiple teams have conflicts over resources, budgets, or the work itself, the PMO can assist in resolving these so delivery stays on track.

Empower delivery teams, no matter how they work

Adaptive PMOs embrace multiple work methods such as traditional projects, hybrid or iterative, Agile, and collaborative. The Project Management Institute found that high-performing PMOs are more skilled at advocating the right approach based on requirements. Projects are much more likely to meet expected goals and business intent. In addition, organizations with high agility report greater revenue growth.

Enable new levers of executive-level visibility and insights

Adaptive PMOs are strategic advisors, empowering their executives to make informed, data-driven decisions. These PMOs collect and integrate data sources from across the organization into their PPM solution. They provide real-time visibility and reporting into financials, performance, and investments. They can communicate high-level priorities, manage cross-team dependencies, and provide executive-level visibility to progress.

The Adaptive PMO also has the ability to work with business leaders to prioritize initiatives, evaluate investments, and compare trade-offs between proposed decisions while considering resource capacity across departments. Executives have visibility to this information to accelerate the delivery of the outcomes that drive innovation and transformation.

Map your PMO’s journey and become an Adaptive PMO using these five guidelines. For more prescriptive guidance on becoming an Adaptive PMO, download the whitepaper “The Agile PMO: 5 Steps to Driving Agility at Scale.” Also see our “Adventure Awaits” presentation on bridging strategy to delivery.

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Linda Roach Written by Linda Roach Director, Solutions Marketing

Linda Roach champions solutions marketing at Planview, partnering with customers to articulate their business challenges and to quantify the value of implementing change. Linda leads Planview's agile go-to-market team for portfolio and resource management. During her tenure, Linda has helped drive Planview's market advancement and significant growth through marketing leadership roles. Previously, Linda held positions at Pervasive Software, VTEL, and Kodak where she led go-to-market initiatives for new products and product line expansion. Linda holds a BS degree in Chemical Engineering from SUNY Buffalo.