Is the PMO approaching its sell by date?

Organisations undertake projects to gain some strategic advantage, create new products, develop new markets or deliver some form of efficiency in the way the organisation operates. Investment projects will have had a compelling business case (that’s guaranteed), setting out the reason why we are investing X and expect to get Y in return. Simply put, we expect an investment return, yes? So why then do most of our investments never get reviewed to ensure they delivered the benefits promised? Whose job is this?

We have a PMO, stacked full of bright people, busy doing stuff, providing management with data, but is it missing the big picture? They provide the monthly project report packs, thick with detailed historical information, manually gathered and manipulated to show how well we are all doing. Bravo! My thoughts quickly turn to the Carillion failure, and more recently the Crossrail delays. What did the PMO reports tell these managers?

The Project Management Office, focuses on projects and therein lies the root of the problem. It’s not one single project, not even a very big one like Crossrail that will alone, deliver the organisations’ strategy. Most organisations will require many projects or investments to make a measurable change to strategic outcomes. Individual Projects or Programmes are not the way to manage strategy today, nor was it yesterday, and it’s certainly not going to be tomorrow. The days for the Project Management Office, as we know it may well be numbered, or do we just need to change what the “P” stands for?

If you are interested in finding how this change will affect your organisation, your PMO, or just your job we would be happy to share what innovative things we are doing for our customers. We are actively re-purposing the PMO, retraining staff that used to “report the past”, to manage future benefit delivery. We are helping organisations re-focus organisation capability, building new operating models with tools that enable the strategic change agenda to work.

I would be interested to hear your thoughts, gather your reaction and start the conversation amongst fellow project, programme and portfolio management professionals. Is the PMO approaching its sell by date, share your thoughts? My views, as crazy as they are, are my own.

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