This week we held our first virtual PMO Community event in the UK with some of our PMO Practitioners and Leaders. We had a really good turn out with people joining from all over the UK and even from Madrid, Spain!
We wanted to discuss a number of topics and we started with the impact of COVID-19 on PMO.
It was interesting to see that relationship building reached the top of the items that have been made difficult by the global pandemic, whilst at the same time, communication was the least difficult, and in most cases has actually improved overall!
The group felt that this was largely down to the phenomenon of over-connection versus disconnection.
At the moment we find ourselves over connected for work, with technology; whilst at the same time, we are disconnected on the human level. Our ability to build and maintain relationships is diminished unless we put effort into it.
The community talked about tactics that they have used to improve this situation which included regular social and fun events (quizzes, chats, through the keyhole games) and lunch and learn sessions for people to share experiences, and let off some steam.
Delivery is continuing in most cases because lots of projects and programmes have themselves been placed on hold and will re-start (or not) in due course. However, when it comes to continuous improvement and innovation activities these have been impacted due to the inability to keep the conversation going with our Customers and Stakeholders.
All PMOs felt that this is an area that will be affected for the long term as there will be a need to start from scratch on the majority of it, which is a real shame.
The discussion then moved into the core challenges being experienced by PMOs at the moment, with the biggest factors relating to governance and reporting.
Governance problems such as being focused on getting things over the line, and the stop-start nature of the processes we have in place not (necessarily) appearing as relevant as they once were.
To fix this, we need to understand what is the Minimum Viable Bureaucracy (MVB) that we need to assure to get the job done in the current circumstances. This understanding is fundamental to re-developing the requirements to provide some pragmatism into our governance processes.
Our latest Change the PMO Mindset e-book is centred around the problems we are finding with governance right now and provides a step by step approach to determining the right among of governance for projects of differing complexity.
Reporting also was a point for discussion for some time. PMO teams are finding much of their time is spent developing (or redeveloping) reports because there is an increased frequency of information requirements from Senior Teams. Likely to be because they cannot walk into an office and as questions as needed.
McKinsey research suggests that the frequency of updates is increasing, which is particularly interesting when we look at:
- The frequency of reviewing projects with a view to de-funding (or stopping) them has moved from quarterly to fortnightly.
- Using data to assess customer needs (in PPM world considering status reporting) has moved from monthly to weekly.
The need for automation of reporting was discussed as a key requirement for those PMOs who are not yet working in this way and spend a large amount of time collating, manipulating, and analysing information from several sources.
Although it was deemed a positive that the PMO is the go-to place for this kind of work and analysis, it is also pertinent to note the risk. That PMO will once again be considered an administrative or secretariat function by Senior Leaders in organisations.
When we discussed the future of our PMOs, the most notable answer was agile. It is important to note that we are at this point not talking about Agile (or any of the development methodologies), but instead the ability to have more agility in the way we work; the need now is to be faster, flexible, and focused on delivery and benefits.
This is something to reflect on over the summer ready for our next PMO community event on September 23rd.