What are the implications for the roles, skills and competencies of the person who works in a PMO of the future

Another question from the PMO SIG conference. Or to reword this in another way, what skills will be needed in the next 5 or 10 years from the PMO and how will social be involved in this.

In order to look forward sometimes it is worth looking back on what we have already done and where the PMO has got to. Over the past 10 years we have seen a transformation in the worth of the PMO. The PMO started out as an administrator helping the project manager with the filing of documentation and updating of risk and issue logs, with dedicated Poole helping out with planning. Over the intervening years they have moved up to be first programme office and then portfolio office. Doing this has increased their visibility and worth within the organisations for which they work. I certainly see more people coming into the role and staying there rather than just passing through.

Having looked back where will the PMO go? The easiest answer to this is where the organisation wants it to. There will certainly still be a need for the project and programme office roles. Where the development should be is in the portfolio office and the centre of excellence roles.

For the portfolio office the PMO needs to aid their organisations to translate the strategy to the delivery, a role that is missing in most organisations I come across. This doesn’t mean that organisations don’t do projects or don’t have a strategy, it’s more that organisations are unable to see how to turn dreams into reality (or strategy to delivery if you want to be a bit less prosaic). In order to do this the PMO will need to understand the business they work for (this may require permanent roles to do the rather than contact roles). They will need to build up the connections within the business to enable the decisions to get made, which will mean the PMO becoming more social, engaging with all parts of the business and building up the contacts they have. This is an extension of what PMOs currently do, although they would need to speak to more CxO individuals.

For the Centre of Excellence role then the PMO will need to embrace new standards/concepts above and beyond the traditional PRINCE2, AXELOS standards such as lean, change management and agile enabling the organisation to operate these methods in a way that fit their business and enable the organisation to understand when projects are in control and when they are not. This will mean that PMOs may need to become more pragmatic in how the rules are applied.

With the rise of project management roles there will be a rise in PMO roles. We will finally start to be in a position that no project or programme will be started without the support of a PMO and that the strategy department will start to incorporate the portfolio office within its midst. At that point we won’t have the debate about why have a PMO, but more on how effective PMOs have been in transforming and streamlining the internal business model and processes.

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