PMO Trends: What’s the Future Look Like?

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As professionals and organizations advance in project management maturity, they face new challenges in scaling up processes and tools. With that in mind, some practitioners stress out the need for dedicated Project Management Offices (PMO). On the other hand, the value added by PMOs is difficult to measure which leads to a contrary trend of senior executives getting rid of existing PMOs. Who is right?

These are the trends on PMO and Project Management for the future:

  1. Decreasing Project Management Offices
  2. trends impacting project managementDecentralized Project Management
  3. Increasing Reliance on Outsourcing


The Fall of the Traditional PMOs

Although there is solid research supporting the need for PMOs, emphasizing their benefits in linking organizational strategy and project execution, most of real-world PMOs fail miserably in delivering value. That’s because these PMOs are created out of the blue without proper change management, usually based on half-backed recipes and standardized tools. In the absence of a common understanding on the PMO’s mission by senior management, organizations end up with a Frankenstein’s monster of processes and functions without tangible results.

By far, the biggest and most common mistake we observe when organizations try to implement a PMO is lack of project management knowledge, experience and maturity. Senior executives see PMOs as black-boxes to successfully (and magically) deliver project results. Lack of bottom line improvement and low increase in project success rates frustrate senior executives’ expectations. They don’t understand the role played by organizational structure and its impact on project management.

Failed PMO implementations frequently rely solely on project management processes and tools without paying attention to organizational fit. Connecting the dots between organizational strategy and project execution demands strong alignment and proper support.

In general, most organizations are upset by low PMO performance. Senior executives feel either burned by poor PMO implementations or trapped by black-box PMOs without clear indication of value added. Poor past experience with PMOs undermined credibility. Before implementing a PMO, answer these Frequently Avoided Questions.

Project practitioners have now the difficult task of reinventing PMOs and re-connecting them to the organizational strategy as PMOs have a trip back to prove their value in the eyes of skeptic business managers.

The key take-away here is that PMOs are now under serious scrutiny of executives and we expect to continue witnessing a decrease in PMOs, which leads us to a new trend in decentralizing and outsourcing project management.

Decentralization of Project Management 

Considering that Project Management is an interdisciplinary approach to tackle temporary endeavors, at operational levels PMOs should provide consistent guidance to initiate a project properly, to plan the project with enough detail, to support the project’s execution, to monitor and control the project through its life cycle, and to close the project formally.

There are plenty of standards, methodologies and best practices created by private companies, governmental institutions, professional organizations, and more. The Project Management Institute is one of the leading organizations in promoting project management practice with the PMBOK Guide. The International Project Management Association holds the Competence Baseline and the Axelos Global Best Practice now sponsors PRINCE2 and MSP standards, to name a few.

By definition, a Project Management Office is an organizational structure and it should operate according to a business model aligned to corporate goals and strategy. New types of PMOs surge to face current organizational challenges. As pressures for more agility mounts, traditional PMOs stumble to keep pace with innovative approaches and hybrid methodologies. On top of that, cloud-based project management platforms made easier for organizations to adopt more than one solution. 

Decentralization is a trend in which PMO’s functions are distributed, and sometimes duplicated, among different business areas to suit their particular needs. For example, a large aerospace company structured an Engineering Division around project management communities of practice while the IT Department possess a PMO to manage outsourced projects.

When it comes to PMOs, there is no “one size fits all.” 

The key take-away here is that organizations are preferring to have virtual PMOs, decentralized PMO’s functions and even temporary PMOs instead of traditional corporate PMOs. As project management professionals and practitioners mature, it is expected that they take over some of the PMO functions.

Outsourcing

To be fair, organizations desperately need new models of PMOs. Despite of research, frameworks and tools, most PMOs fail to achieve their mission and to deliver benefits, which explains a third trend we observe currently: outsourced PMOs and project management services.

Although it would be nice to have a good in-house PMO and to build internal project management capabilities, some organizations find it too cumbersome and time consuming. Besides, there is a perception that consulting companies specialized in project management are more capable to provide those services with excellence and at a reasonable price.

Project management services might include the planning, execution and control of a single project or a set of projects. It is a growing business for consulting companies and project management IT providers (platform, templates, methodology etc). As a matter of fact, outsourced project management is propelling PMO As a Service. And we expect to observe new players on that field.

PMO As a Service – Why not?

The key take-away here is that organizations might be better off having outsourced PMO’s functions and project management services. After all, projects are temporary endeavors to produce unique results and some organizations don’t know how to successful integrate them into operations. Why not hire experts as needed?

When it comes to trends, one is perennial: the need for good tools. ProjectManager.com is your one-stop shop for an online and collaborative suite of software solutions that can help you plan, monitor and report on a project in real-time. Try it for yourself, free, with this 30-day trial.

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