Moving a chess piece

A game plan for building strategic maturity

For the majority of PMOs today, the more connection they have with the strategic plans of an organisation, the more longevity and growth – or maturity – they will see.

As a C’Level executive explains in my book, ‘Leading Successful PMOs’: “What I love is having people who look after our business for me and who help me drive our strategies forward – the PMO does both, which isn’t what all my departments do…”

I believe a PMO can achieve and build on their strategic maturity in the following three game-changing ways:

1) Strategic Management

Each project should in some way relate directly or indirectly to a strategic intention of the organisation.

The PMO takes ownership of the projects by managing these strategic intentions.

In this capacity, the PMO is acting as the governing and advisory body to the executive by:

  • Validating all projects so they fit into one or more strategic initiatives.
  • Tracking the current strategies and validating the alignment between these and the projects.
  • Making recommendations for ‘stalls’ or ‘kills’ of projects that no longer align with current strategic thinking.

(The last point may be somewhat alien to the PMO but it is definitely something they should be doing.)

2) Strategy Delivery

The PMO translates the key strategic objectives into new projects to increase the existing portfolio and even remove some from the portfolio if the objectives have changed.

This strategy delivery is supported by the strategy management capability. It may be that the PMO also takes some direct ownership for the execution of large and complex programmes (or projects) that are critical to a key strategic initiative, such as a relocation.

3) Strategy Creation

The PMO helps an organisation decide which strategic options to pursue. It then translates them into projects (strategy delivery) and manages their success (strategy management).

The above situation, in which the PMO has reached a position of trust and influence inside an organisation, is rare.

However, the potential it has for a PMO successfully embedded within an organisation – and blessed with the right sponsorship – cannot be underestimated.

ESI’s survey The Global State of the PMO – An Analysis for 2013 encouragingly shows that about one in five of PMOs surveyed were strategic in nature.

The survey results also support the longevity proposition by identifying that ‘PMOs with a strategic function as opposed to a tactical or operational one, tended to be the most mature’.

It certainly is an exciting (potential) future for the PMO…