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Project Portfolio Management

A Seat at the Table—Making Your PMO More Relevant in Time of Change

Published By Jerry Manas
A Seat at the Table—Making Your PMO More Relevant in Time of Change

At the PMO Symposium in Orlando several months ago, Planview’s Expert-in-Residence Terry Doerscher and I discussed a number of topics that seemed to permeate the conference. There were a number of sessions decrying the lack of PMO focus on value and benefits. And several sessions spoke of the growing trend toward lean and adaptive methodologies, and how the PMO can best accommodate and nurture them. There were even a few sessions on organizational adoption and culture change — mine being one of them, and Terry’s being another — and the measurement of these often-forgotten factors. Read on to learn about making your PMO more relevant in times of change. 

Terry and I agreed that, in a sense, all of these topics were about change — how to manage it, how to anticipate it, and how to leverage it. In that regard, we began to think of the PMO as a “change management office.” This, we surmised, would make the PMO a crucial and indisputable partner in any organization’s leadership circle.

In such an environment, the PMO’s role would be threefold:

  • To foster and manage alignment, including strategic, functional, and cultural alignment
  • To enable effective portfolio management as a way to bridge strategy, operations, and finance
  • To refocus the organization on benefits and value, thus ensuring the best use of limited resources

In performing these critical functions, the PMO would shift its focus away from primarily monitoring and measuring execution success and dictating approaches, though it can and should provide guidelines, tools, and principles. Project managers and their teams should be empowered to choose the correct approach, with everyone agreeing on which items must be standardized, either for general effectiveness or for reporting purposes.

This leaves the PMO to focus on alignment toward value, paying attention to things like: outcomes and key drivers; ongoing validation of benefits and risks; assessments of competency and commitment across the organization; and, finally, integrated portfolio management of projects, services, assets, and products.

It’s this broader view of alignment, combined with a business outcomes/capabilities focus, that enables an organization to embrace change and remain flexible and agile. Indeed, a PMO that’s down in the weeds, focused purely on on-time, on-budget, and on-scope measures, is missing its key value to the organization.

To learn more about this topic, register the latest white paper titled, A Seat at the Table: Making Your PMO More Relevant in Times of Change.

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Written by Jerry Manas

Jerry Manas is an internationally best-selling author, speaker, and consultant. He is frequently cited by leading voices in the world of business, including legendary management guru Tom Peters (“In Search of Excellence”), who often references Manas’s bestselling book Napoleon on Project Management for its insights on simplicity and character, and Pat Williams, Senior VP of the Orlando Magic, who called Manas’s book Managing the Gray Areas “a new path for leaders.” Jerry’s latest book is The Resource Management and Capacity Planning Handbook (McGraw-Hill), which Judith E. Glaser, noted author of Conversational Intelligence, touted as “the first book dedicated to what is essentially the drivetrain of organizations—the effective use of its people toward its most important activities.” Through his consulting company, The Marengo Group, Jerry helps clients maximize their organizational people resources, leading to a grater capacity to innovate, a more value-focused workforce, and an increased ability to adapt to change. He is a popular speaker at events around the world, speaking on lessons from history, resource planning, organizational change, and other topics. Jerry’s work has been highlighted in a variety of publications, including the Houston Chronicle, Chicago Sun Times, National Post, Globe and Mail, Huffington Post, and others.