Some of my knowledgeable (and talented) business colleagues shrug their shoulders and raise their eyebrows when I mention my work with Project/Programme Management Offices (PMOs).
One of them stated with confidence, “I will let the IT propeller heads deal with those projects”.
When I asked him if there were business strategic-focused projects that he wished were being done that would give “more bang for buck” for meeting strategic objectives, he said, “Definitely. But it appears that the wrong people are making the decisions on projects — and others just putting such decisions in the too-hard basket”.
The reality is that effective companies know often that they are perhaps low in maturity (i.e. repeatable processes) for approving, prioritising and implementing complex projects. They also often acknowledge that they aren’t tracking and realising benefits of these projects as they should be.
Also, many of them realise that it is a longer-term process to “wrest back” control from the IS departments (who are already frustrated in having to make business decisions).
Effective and successful companies and organisations are now developing and implementing roadmaps for helping mature their processes and roles in effectively running business-focused PMOs. They understand that it doesn’t happen overnight.
They are utilising effective facilitation and collaboration techniques and processes which obtain real stakeholder agreement and direction. Some techniques include “pairwise comparison” for the sometimes perceived difficult prioritising of “all high priority projects”. There are clever and relatively simple-to-use tools with excellent graphical “bubble chart” output which provide help for busy Executives to prioritise between what seems to be very complex projects.
Such tools coupled with effective facilitation create the necessary collaboration and united approach for clear strategic direction and a transparent PMO– which of course can be revisited in a planned way every 6 months or as agreed.
This is a true “win-win-win” approach because it gives the Business Executive/Leaders the confidence in using the tools and process for “making the hard strategic decisions”, it gives the IS department the relief for being a “partner” in making decisions (but not the sole responsible party) and it accommodates a dynamic and changing business environment — where such decisions are made on which projects give best “bang for strategic buck” in a dynamic but planned and predictable way.
So what is the big deal about PMOs? A very very big deal — that can provide confidence and reassurance that the business is doing the right projects at the right time — while remaining united and able to change strategic course as a team in a timely way. A big deal indeed!