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01 Nov 2015

3 new tasks for PMOs

by Melanie Franklin

Project management is changing

I was lucky enough to be the trainer on two fantastic courses in October, for the Change Management Practitioner qualification and the Agile Project Management exams. Both groups were highly experienced project and programme managers who recognise that project management is changing. The popularity of agile approaches means that unlike traditional styles of project management e.g. PRINCE2®, we can expect to guide our users through several implementations of project deliverables during the project lifecycle. This means that as a community we need to understand how to manage change and work alongside those impacted by our projects to ensure that they have prepared new processes and re-designed their procedures so they can easily incorporate the project deliverables into their ways of working.

PMOs need to change

I see a lot of project managers, programme managers and project team members upskilling themselves in agile and change management approaches to ensure they are effective in this new world. Finally however, I am starting to see some members of the PMO profession joining them. I think this is essential because if project management is changing, then the function of the Portfolio, Programme or Project Office is also changing.

Key changes for the PMO

I think the key changes anyone in a PMO role should be alert to are:

  1. When new initiatives are identified and captured in the portfolio, more questions need to be asked about the activities to support transition to new ways of working. It is naïve to only capture the start and end dates of the project, when the true impact of the project is felt in the business for weeks or months after the go-live date. During this transition, the launch of further projects need to be treated with care as it is too easy to overwhelm staff with changes to business as usual along with requests to get involved in even more projects to generate even more change.
  2. To be as effective as possible, the PMO must be a source of excellence in change management activities as well as project management activities. This change management knowledge can be used to ensure that all project plans include implementation activities to create, train and rehearse new ways of working so that project deliverables are adopted and benefits realised.
  3. The PMO has a unique view of all project activity across the organisation and needs to use this information to negotiate the go-live dates of initiatives to create an on-going set of enhancements to business as usual which take account of inter-dependencies between different initiatives. This enables the PMO to manage the disruption, lower productivity and higher levels of stress associated with change minimising the risk to business as usual.

Next steps

For more information about how project management is changing:

Melanie Franklin
1st November 2015