Straight Talk on Project Management

Driving evolution

Share this post


RSS feed

New strategic PMOs have a vital new responsibility to drive evolution

Aren’t PMOs amazing?

In recent years the Project Management Office has evolved from the brink of extinction to in many cases a vital driver of critical strategic change. Consider that transformation for a moment – from a position where lots of organisations where questioning the point of even having a PMO to a stage where many now believe they could not, cannot live without one.


As a long-time fan of the Project Management Office, I am relishing watching so many now shaping project execution. Firstly, they are helping at a (local) organisational level and secondly on a (global) industry-wide level.

I believe that the more that Project Management Offices embrace their ‘local’ and ‘global’ potential, the greater they will become.

However, with great power comes huge responsibility. The increasingly strategic PMO has a responsibility to drive the evolution of project management on these local and global levels.

I think that they can do it in a number of ways.

1 – Drive Evolution Through Recommendation

This first great responsibility is already part of the DNA of many successful PMOs. Whereas PMOs of a few years back awaited instructions to act upon accordingly, it is now increasingly the responsibility of the PMO to actively seek to recommend how to evolve and improve project execution.

PMOs are actively aligning evolution of project execution with the evolution of the business. In doing so, project execution can be measured in real business value terms, for instance, how it performs against strategic expectations. This window also allows the PMO to carry out gap analysis on current project capability versus future project needs giving businesses a time to future proof themselves.

2 – Drive Evolution Through Example

I love that best practices are being shared and adopted across the Project Management sector. I remember when many Project Management Offices would hide their best ideas like a student shielding work with their hand. This always struck me as very negative. Sure, you probably don’t want your competitor using your tricks and there is a chance that by sharing great ideas this might happen. Chances are that they will work out your secret in the end so your challenge is to constantly improve your tricks. The inevitable net result of sharing best practice is that it improves best practice.

Hiring in Project Management services can really improve in-house capabilities by opening up minds to new thinking, current trends and creativity.

3 – Drive Evolution Through Disruption

The strategically focused PMO is never restrained by current project methodologies or approaches to project execution – it is open trying new ideas. Disruptive change, a concept that would have been unthinkable to some PMOs just a few years back should be an active ingredient in your approach to project execution evolution. If you need to blow it up, then do so. Technology is disruptive by nature so why many PMOs have been reluctant to break their own moulds for so long is beyond me.

Just think, Netflix started as a DVD by mail business in 1997. This model wasn’t hugely dissimilar to Blockbuster’s store led approach but Netflix watched trends and when they launched streaming a decade later they stole market share.

Increasingly, there is a responsibility on the strategic PMO to innovate too. I see PMOs experimenting with hybrids of various methodologies to suit individual projects, I see traditional project managers being replaced by what I call project pioneers – entrepreneurial visionaries who are looking beyond the confines of their current project portfolio and effecting long-term changes to their firm’s PM strategies and I’m loving the work of one PMO who are currently focussed on smashing up dependencies that have held them back.

You don’t have to lose focus from the day to day project management tasks – in fact, you mustn’t – but when you adopt a more strategic view, opportunities will present themselves that promote the relevance of your PMO within the hierarchy of your organisation. Inevitably, the more you work on what you can influence the greater your area of influence will become. I know PMOs that are now central to their company’s success and I find that really exciting!

The most successful Project Management Offices are evolving in sync with the way that their parent organisation is evolving. They are taking the initiative to identify gaps between where project management capabilities lie today and where they need to be for successful, business strategy aligned execution in the future.

There will be a positive contagion effect, as more organisations see that their approach to project management needs a kick start. As the ripples reach stakeholders, project teams and even the educators teaching the next generation, the project management industry will evolve until the whole resembles these more disruptive parts.

Your PMO might not be there yet and that’s OK. An independent Project Management Assessment can help refocus and refine or redesign your project management capabilities and the Project Management as a Service market has many solutions to any pain points you encounter along the way.

Act – or be acted upon. Further evolution of the PMO is coming – whether you are a driver of the change or a passenger is up to you. Driving does sound rather more fun, though, doesn’t it!?

Contact us to learn more about how Stoneseed’s Enterprise PMO Assessment can improve you improve your project performance.