Three Key Takeaways from PMO Symposium 2019

Author: Tim Short
PMO Symposium 2019 was held earlier this month in Denver, CO. This intense four-day event was packed with insights on building an adaptive, future-ready PMO. With the PMO currently under attack, the way a company must operate in the digital marketplace is by being more agile and open to consistent change. In doing so, your PMO can become the company’s ally in transforming itself into an adaptive, fast, flexible and competitive industry leader. Three key topics remained front and center throughout this year’s symposium: 1. The struggle to implement and embrace Agile methodology 2. the need for effective resource management and 3. Adaptation to the new project economy. Let’s take a closer look at these topics. 

1. Stop Project Management Methodology Wars

Solutions for Internal Struggles with Agile, PMOs and Innovation

Everyone in an organization wants successful business outcomes. Ensuring alignment in achieving those outcomes, however, can lead to conflicts that are not productive and can even be damaging to the desired goals. Friction is common during transformation and change, particularly when it comes to project management and Agile methodologies. Sometimes it is the team that struggles to adapt - at other times, it is the PMO itself. Even leadership can cause negative disruption when they can’t see the bigger picture or demand perfection too soon. 

Key Takeaway: We find that organizations often overcome these obstacles by first communicating with all teams, or stakeholders, to find the “common truths”. These truths help foster alignment at the beginning of implementation or project and will influence success into the future. Next, leadership should build on these foundational truths to create a roadmap to a collaborative organization that breaks down silos and “my way is the only way” thinking. Last, organizations need to promote communication. Set up an action and communication plan(s) to encourage productive conversations. Then, stick to the plan. 

2. Resource Management Is Critical to Success

Resource management is a key pain point for many organizations, and we heard this a lot at this year’s conference. It’s becoming more known yet many still don’t recognize that it is often the root cause of key business challenges. When resource management is a problem, processes often devolve into a near-constant effort to put out fires without ever addressing the source of the issue. Living in a state of triage is no way to run a business. This is where we PMO’s have an opportunity.  The PMO should be the primary source to help business realize a clearer path to success, through true resource management.

Here are just a few of the challenges preventing successful execution of key business goals: 

  • Planning is poor (or even non-existent) from word GO.
  • PMO is not able to make immediate changes due to lack of sponsorship or support
  •  Shortage of human resources, talent, budget or time
  •  Poor communication
  •  Projects are not centralized/visibility is poor
  • PMO lacks sufficient data to drive informed decisions

Key Takeaway: Organizations must begin by assessing their PMO maturity to find and fix their capability gaps. Next, they need to support their PMOs by centralizing projects and portfolios regardless of methodology. PMOs need simplified access and high visibility to plan effectively. Additionally, they must be equipped with accurate, timely data to support effective decision-making. An informed PMO is a well-prepared PMO. Data allows them to spot skill gaps, adjust budget shortfalls, shift deliverables and make any number of important decisions to deliver on organizational goals. Having this data within a single source of truth within the PMO brings trust to the office. 

3. The Project Economy Is Here to Stay

As noted in the opening of this article, technology has forever shifted the way that organizations do business — and it will continue to do so. Business today demands agility, speed, innovation and adaptability without sacrificing quality. For every company that fails to understand this, there is another company hungry to take their market share. In the realm of project management and business operations, Sunil Prashara, president and CEO of the Project Management Institute, predicts that the days of lifetime roles in a company will become a thing of the past and that short bursts of project-oriented work will become the norm. For PMOs, this means change — and opportunity. 

Key Takeaway: PMOs can embrace the new “project economy” by adapting processes to align with the shifting business landscape. This won’t necessarily be easy, as the existing workforce will have to change their thinking and possibly evolve their skillset. Business operations are shifting to resemble the gig economy in that workers focus on specialization while rote tasks become automated. PMOs will need to adapt how they secure and assign resources, plus explore how technology can automate and facilitate processes as this new trend unfolds. 

If the top topics at PMO Symposium 2019 are any indication, technology is the most powerful factor impacting businesses today. It will continue to drive companies to work harder, faster and smarter. In order to ensure they don’t get left behind, companies need to create unity in their PM methodology, maintain strong focus on resource management and prepare for the future of work in the project economy. 

PMO Symposium 2020 will be held November 8-11 in Orlando, Florida. We look forward to meeting you and hearing your thoughts on top PMO challenges at next year’s event.