At this time of year we like to reflect on what’s happened in the market over the last 12 months and also look forward to what’s coming. In PMO terms, at the moment every year feels like a seismic shift.
Your Project Management Office is the hub of dynamism and the driver for strategic alignment in the company. The increased interest this year in delivering on strategy – we’ve seen this as a theme from PMI and elsewhere – has pushed PMOs to the top of the agenda. It’s within your PMO that you’ll get the alignment that ensures investment is being put in the right place.
Looking forward, here are 5 trends that we’ll be watching in 2017.
Walk round any office and you’ll see paper. Even companies that pride themselves on being paperless have employees who print out work instructions or contact lists and stick them on the wall next to their desk.
However, you can’t deny the trend towards digital. The UK’s National Health Service, the largest employer in Europe, has a strategic objective to be paperless by 2020.
Project management education also needs to adopt this to a greater degree. We’ll see ‘digital’ being incorporated into more and more projects, be that in terms of data or process (or both).
The PMO has a role to play in supporting team members who aren’t natural digital thinkers and who might find working on these projects a challenge. Equally, there’s an argument that says PMOs can drive some of this strategic change by identifying opportunities for using appropriate digital strategies to generate efficiencies in the way projects are managed.
We predict that PMOs will step up and lead the digital thinking agenda in their organization.
Allied to this ongoing digital shift, we’ve seen a big jump in online project management training. Advances in software and collaboration tools have made it easier for individual experts and small businesses to create their own training courses or offer webinars.
One of the key responsibilities of the Project Management Office is supporting the project managers who work within the organization’s project environment. Training is one of the ways that you can do this, but watch out for quality. While it’s a positive that there is access to more expertise and lower price points, you should research your training providers fully to ensure that their courses and accreditations meet the needs of your team.
We predict that more PMOs will make use of online tools to build their own internal training courses, which will be supplemented by external expertise as required.
Last year we predicted that Agile was coming into the realm of the PMO. We’ve seen that happen in many cases but Agile is not a trend: it’s here to stay.
We’ll see more and more professionals adopt Agile ways of working, and PMOs need to be able to get to grips with what that means for their tools and the support they can offer project teams.
The challenge is that blended methodologies are often the best choice for a business. When you don’t have a rulebook, you have to write one for yourself.
We predict that Agile will soon be – where it isn’t already – a core skill set for PMO professionals. PMO teams will support hybrid project methodologies too, learning through experience and training, drawing on roles like Scrum Master to find out how they can best add value to Agile teams.
Our project environments are becoming more complex. There are more moving parts, more technology, more partners. The capability of our teams is therefore even more important than previously.
Capability assessments are something that the PMO can take the lead in. PMO management teams are perfectly place to review capability in the project team today against the skills required to deliver the future strategy. Essentially, you carry out a needs analysis, looking at the skills and behaviors in the team today. This is then reviewed against the predicted resource requirements to deliver upcoming projects. The gap is where you have work to do to upskill your resources and develop capability in individuals and the organization as a whole.
Capability assessments are a very easy and successful way of systematically improving the skills of ‘accidental’ project managers. Overall, this kind of gap analysis only improves your projects chances of success.
We predict that if capability assessments haven’t traditionally been a core part of your PMOs function, they soon will be.
Diverse Work for Employee Retention
The APM Salary and Market Trends Survey reports that diverse and interesting work is the most important thing when searching for a new role.
We can extrapolate that in order to retain highly qualified and experienced staff, we need to be offering them ‘diverse and interesting’ projects. Unfortunately, diverse and interesting is going to mean different things to different people.
Luckily, the PMO is in the perfect position to work this out and follow through on it. First, you need to know you staff well enough to understand how they perceive ‘diverse and interesting’. That’s easy enough: talk to them. Use performance reviews to find out what they would like to work on and where their personal interests lie.
Then it’s a case of positioning your projects to fit with those interests. This resource juggling isn’t always going to work out. You can’t have everyone on the team working on new product launches when there is a stack of security and infrastructure work to do be done. Your job is to balance the needs of the portfolio and prioritize the work in the company’s best interests and sometimes the personal preferences of your project staff aren’t going to perfectly align.
In those situations you can have honest conversations about the workload and priorities. You might lose some staff as a result, but you would have lost them anyway. Many of them, in our experience, will stay if you are upfront about the challenges of project allocation and clear about what they can expect in the future.
We predict that PMOs will take more ownership of employee retention within their sphere of influence – largely because recruiting talent feels like it is getting harder.
How do you see your PMO evolving in 2017? Or perhaps your target for next year is to get your PMO created and delivering great value? Either way, we can help. Call us today on (703) 910-2600 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss how Ten Six’s expertise and experience can improve your project, program and portfolio management capabilities in the coming year.