Project Management

2025 Vision: The Future of PMOs

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By Kevin Korterud

 

To mark the new year, I decided to make a rather ambitious resolution: envision the future of project management offices (PMOs). Specifically,  what PMOs will be like in the year 2025.

In retrospect, a New Year’s resolution to exercise more or take up a new hobby might have been easier. But here goes.

In 2015, PMOs of all types face a growing number of challenges. These include larger and more complex programs, workforces spread across different locations, time zones and cultures, integration needs and a shortage of skilled technologists. All of these trends will likely intensify in the next 10 years.

While there have been significant advances in the area of program delivery with agile methods, work planning tools and other enhancements, we need to rethink the function of the PMO with regard to its readiness to deal with a constantly changing and challenging business environment.

Here’s how I think PMOs could — and should — be functioning in 2025:

 

1. Mega PMO. Today all sorts of PMOs are spread across an organization: enterprise, business, program and transformation PMOs. Organizationally, these PMOs are typically fragmented across multiple business functions and governance structures. In addition, each PMO can operate independently of each other.

Given the complexity and scale of contemporary programs, this scenario has inherent risk from a delivery integration and coordination standpoint. For effective and safe delivery in the future, all PMOs need to be brought into a single organization and centralized command structure responsible for the oversight of all delivery programs.

This “Mega PMO” would go beyond the strategic roles played by Enterprise PMOs (EPMOs)—like portfolio management and benefits realization—to encompass tactical and operational services as well.  

The level of integration on today’s delivery programs compels a move to this new PMO operating model.    

 

2. Mega-PMO Partitioning. We must also address the strategic, tactical and operational needs of contemporary program delivery. This can come about by structuring the PMO of the future into functions that provide services and direction at all three of these levels.

For example, portfolio management, benefits realization and strategic planning would reside in a function that is staffed with highly skilled resources. Administrative and operational activities such as work plan updates, status report production and financial tracking would be in a service center function using resources with matching skills.

 

3. Unified Program Managers. It’s common today to have program managers embedded in various parts of an organization. While this results in program manager specialization, it does little to harmonize program management approaches and activities.

Just as program oversight would be brought into a single organization, so should the program managers overseeing program delivery. This would ensure both existing and new program managers collaborate and execute in a coordinated manner.

In addition, the centralization of program managers would also enable the development of program managers’ skills in ways that typically wouldn’t happen while embedded in a business function.    

 

4. A Master Control Room. In a prior article, I mentioned the need for and benefits of a program control room. The creation of a single PMO compels the need for a centralized control venue to enable effective delivery oversight.

To manage the quantity, complexity and scale of future programs, this PMO master control room would need to resemble a control room in a manufacturing environment. This would include display screens, consistent representation of status, incident resolution rooms and other enabling technologies that drive effective program delivery.    

 

This vision of the future aligns with the trends and trajectories of delivery programs. Not unlike how manufacturing, supply chain and other core business processes moved from craft to industrialized systems, the design and operation of PMOs need to change to support the delivery programs of tomorrow.    

What do you think the future will hold for PMOs? I welcome your reactions!

Posted by Kevin Korterud on: January 16, 2015 02:07 PM | Permalink

Comments (9)

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Very Nice

Good article, I see movement in this direction and certainly see the need for more centralized and comprehensive PMO management. Hope we see this sooner that 2025!

Hi Cherie...this might be a bit of a return to the past. I recollect that when Kelly Johnson of Lockheed (also founder of the Skunk Works) started his program management efforts he had a single PMO for the production of multiple aircraft...had to in order to coordinate resources and dependencies...

Thought provoking and a motivating force to envision the future. In the end, a "Mega PMO" seems to rub against the age old dilemma: centralization versus decentralization and/or. control versus autonomy.

If organizations were homogenous across functions and functional managers maintained their control of resources then it might be feasible. I am not sure the Mega PMO could accept the latter. On the former, I am not sure a single centralized group could work with such varied levels of regulation, compliance, uncertainty, and speed.

How do we coordinate the disparate efforts? The answer would appear to be Program Managers. Where there are projects throughout the organization contributing to a strategic objective, there should be a program manager to ensure coordination and appropriate information sharing. This is largely left to senior executives today, some do it well, other not.

I totally agree on number four. We need a single, central place to go for program and project information. I do not see this as a room (rather inaccessible) but a supporting set of standards and IT systems to aggregate data and generate useful information at all levels.

In the end, some will follow the "Mega PMO" and others will follow a more federal model. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Which one is best, as many say, it all depends.

FUJI E&C
Thanks for your greatly articles

@Richard >> Agree with Richards comments viz Centralised vs Decentralised (or federated vs centralised model). In Enterprise PMOs the concept of the Virtual PMO has been here for some time as a "slave" PMO linked to the "master" Enterprise PMO, and in fact there can be iterations of this mechanism.

Like any management structure thought needs to be put into the governance around how these PMO''s are permitted to start or like anything they will spread in an unmanageable way which will prevent optimising management of investments by the enterprise as a whole.

At times this will be at the expense of providing freedom to business units. How this happens has to be determined by the Board of Directors of the Enterprise, or the issue will not be addressed. That means Policy and Tools to enable the Policy.

There are some great frameworks around in this areas like COBIT5 or VAL IT from ISACA.

Hi Kevin, provoking thoughts indeed! From my perspective, there is a trend in smaller and more focused PMOs. But I may be wrong. Do you see mega-PMOs in organisations currently? What would be their best practices and responsibilities?

Dear Kevin
Interesting perspective on the topic: "2025 Vision: The Future of PMOs"
Thanks for sharing

It makes sense to concentrate the management of all business programs in a single structure

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