Digital disruption has been a recent trend, and it’s likely to continue affecting how we work on projects for many years to come.
The ‘big idea’ of digital disruption is that technology is changing how people collaborate at work in all respects. From the processes involved in doing tasks, to the actual tasks themselves, to the way businesses interact with consumers – it’s all changing.
Digital disruption feels unsettling, not least because there’s a sense that if your business doesn’t stay current with the changes, it could risk being left behind.
The PMO function of your company is no different. When the rest of the organization is gearing up to stay digitally relevant and is adapting to new ways of working, how can you set up a PMO or continue to develop your existing PMO support that change?
Let’s look at what the wave of technology changes means for PMO professionals and how you can stay relevant in a changing world.
Supporting Emergent Workstreams
If your business hasn’t adopted agile ways of working yet, it is likely to at least want to consider them. The processes and technology required to manage innovation projects are different from those
In Leading Transformation: How to Take Charge of Your Company’s Future, the authors write about the need to work with uncommon partners in a way that feels more agile and nimble than perhaps big organizations are used to. They discuss this idea in relation to the contractual obligations between companies, and highlight the importance of easy-to-understand contracts when dealing with firms that are unlikely to have in-house legal teams to make sense of them.
The same principle can be applied to project delivery methods. Take a chance on different methodologies and practices that might feel unstructured to you. If you’re working with research or innovation projects, you may need to step back a bit and let the magic happen. Perhaps it’s time to introduce a new program to the portfolio: a digital or innovation workstream where things happen differently, but still using the basis of sound project management principles.
Take Action: Think about how your business does innovation. Do the tried-and-tested project management approaches in use suit that way of working? If not, how can you flex your processes to allow more agile and innovative ways of working?
Providing Better Analytics
Another key area for a PMO supporting a business going through digital change, is to provide better management information.
There’s a vast sea of data available to businesses today. However, it can be difficult to access or interpret. Data management tools make that a little easier, and your project management data repository is a perfect target for analysis.
Work with the business intelligence or data analysts in your company. Use tools like Primavera P6 BI Publisher to surface management insights from the pool of project information. Create tailored reports that run automatically or set up dashboards with real-time information so teams can check the latest progress whenever they like.
Take Action: Look at what management metrics you currently have in use and assess whether they truly provide useful information for your executives. If not, think about what measures would be more relevant to track and set about monitoring those.
Partnering With the Business
Many PMOs began life as a governance function, and there’s nothing wrong with that. We know there’s substantial value to be had in standardizing and managing project delivery efforts – with noticeable gains to be had in project success rates. Better governance is certainly a core reason for the existence of many PMOs.
However, moving into an era of digital disruption means taking a look at how PMOs are perceived within the business. Are you seen purely as a governance and ‘police’ function? Or are you valued as a business partner, a team that can deliver insights and support project delivery effectively?
Take Action: Think about how the business sees the work that you do. What could you do to partner with other business units in a more substantial way?
How are your project teams working with stakeholders? Think about how your project management tools can better support an environment of collaboration. Much of the technology you probably already have will help you work effectively across time zones and office locations. But are your teams using it effectively? Do they even know how?
One relatively easy angle to target is supporting business and project teams to make better use of the collaboration tools that are already in the business. Think about file sharing and commenting features of your project management software. Perhaps you have chat tools. How could the PMO champion these, and get more conversations where they need to be, and out of executives’ inboxes?
Collaboration can also extend to working practices. Many projects involve prototyping or demonstrating a solution before it moves to the next stage of development. How much of this could be done online, either in a virtual environment or even on a video conference? Can the PMO make these tools available to others in the business and become a hub for digital collaboration?
Take Action: Think about how you support project and business teams to work together through the tools you have and the services you offer. How effective are these tools? Do you even track effectiveness at all? It might be time to scale up the project management software you have to make better use of modern technologies.
Digital disruption is just a label. PMOs have been dealing with changing workplace practices for some time and are often – in our experience – one of the most nimble and flexible parts of the business.
As the year ticks by, keep an eye of what is happening outside the PMO within your business. There might be interesting opportunities and more ways that you can support your colleagues in their move to embrace new ways of working.