Since the dawn of PMO, teams have continuously evolved to support the needs of the organisation and the industry, and 2021 has been no different. In this article, we will be looking at PMO trends for 2022, looking at both ways of working and people and teams.

With the rise of home working since the Covid-19 pandemic started the role of the PMO in organisations has in some cases become unrecognisable, so it is important at the end of the year to consider what has fundamentally changed, and what lies in store for 2022.

These are the PMO trends that we feel will be most important in 2022 and will be exploring these, as well as uncovering how to get FuturePMO ready:

  • Remote-Working
  • Technology Enablement
  • Risk Management
  • Pragmatic Governance
  • People and Trust
  • All Hands Education
  • Mental Health & Resilience

Ways of Working considerations

Remote-Working

This has been one of the key differentiators of 2021 with organisations electing to let their employees work from home and only travelling to the office as often (or not) as they like. This is also true for consultants working directly with Clients, where Clients no longer see the need (or the cost) of a face-to-face meeting with their consultants.

This trend has brought with it numerous benefits for Employees, Clients, and organisations including reduced costs, and a better Life-Work balance, along with the unexpected benefits of relaxed working time directives, and reduced carbon footprints.

However, every silver lining has a cloud as they say, and the compromises should be acknowledged and dealt with as best we can. The biggest challenge with Remote-Working has been cited by many in the industry as relationship building.

Organisationally, we should consider the culture that drives us forward, and how do we maintain that culture, team spirit, and collaboration when teams are fundamentally dispersed.

Working directly with Clients or other teams have also proved challenging, as the inherent trust required when meeting someone new and working with them for the long term requires communication that is more than simply words over a screen.

Training has also been lost and gained during the shift from classroom to virtual which we will explore further in Part 2 of this article.

Technology-Enabled

This must have been one of the most quoted phrases of 2021 throughout the project management industry. The move from analogue to digital for many organisations meant the birth of a new technological era. The scale of mindset shift after this ‘enforced’ change should not be underestimated, as commented on further in my Digital Transformation blog.

When seen together with the creation of new technology, additional functionality to existing technology, and the need for data and information, it is no wonder that many organisations have been left in a spin when it comes to guiding their teams in ways of working.

And although the technology for virtual working has never been so advanced, with rooms, whiteboards, collaboration, and feelings tracking enabling teams to complete their responsibilities without missing a beat, there is a real chance that the #HumanFirst parts of project management get side-lined for the seemingly less complicated computational solutions and responses.

Risk Management

How many organisations had Covid-19 on their Strategic or Project risk log?

I only know of two organisations that considered Covid-19 as a pertinent enough risk to be tracking and planning a response to the pandemic. Most organisations didn’t consider its impact or likelihood high enough to be serious, and then; seemingly overnight, it took hold and affected everyone.

Risk Management covers the approaches and processes in place to mitigate either the impact or likelihood of a risk materialising and impacting objectives, so why did organisations not foresee it?

The fact is that for many organisations, programmes, and projects, risk management has fallen out of favour, been perceived as bureaucracy and something we must do in order to tick the governance boxes. Even though risk management is designed to be a strategic endeavour.

Following a year of maturity assessments, the lack of risk management across organisations of all shapes, sizes, and industries has been evidenced, as has a rise in organisations developing risk management education and process to ensure that their teams are ready for another such calamity.

Instead of planning (at whatever level), and then doing risk management, we need to turn this topic on its head and allow risk management to inform our planning. Had this been considered pre-Covid-19, the transition for organisations and employees may have been less painful and onerous.

Governance and Assurance

Many PMOs have had to adapt their service catalogue to become a lot more tactical (focused on reporting, data, and metrics) than they have been for a long time. Governance and Assurance activities have suffered because of this shift.

Considering that much of 2020 and 2021 delivery has continued despite failures in governance, assurance, and professional project managers should encourage teams to understand that pragmatism in choosing ways of working is a huge enabler for delivery.

This means taking the time to relinquish some control and provide a means of delivery that is simple, pragmatic, can be done from afar, and everyone understands.

People and Teams

In this next section, we will be unpacking the people side of PMO, and how to get teams and individuals not just enabled with appropriate structure talked about here, but with the confidence to deliver value to their customers.

Education

Education has been at the heart of the project management industry since the pandemic started and in particular virtual training. 

According to Findstack and other sources, the eLearning market is expected to grow to over $240 Billion by the end of 2022. This means that digital learning is not going away any time soon, and is, therefore, something we need to adapt to. 

From an organisation and team perspective, there are several challenges with this approach to learning that need to be considered such as (and most important) the quality of the content and format of online courses. Following the explosion of professional training available, organisations and teams must be mindful that they select not just the most cost-effective option for their individuals, but training that is proven to be based on best practice and not opinion and delivered in an exciting way.  

The perception of online training is that it is less-than-traditional classroom training. And yes, there are compromises such as the networking aspect, and interactivity. But there are also unexpected benefits such as the ability to bring global teams together, and the reduction in carbon footprint. 

People and organisations

They have historically had a complicated relationship. Depending on the culture of the organisation it may be that its employees feel like a nameless cog in the wheel, a number, directed to be in the office between certain times and days, enjoying little flexibility. 

Since the world changed to 90% working from home this dynamic has overall, been turned on its head. 

Yes, there are some employees who are experienced more scrutiny when working from home, but overall organisations have had no choice but to open the doors to trusting their employees much more than they have ever done before.  

Thanks to homeschooling, working odd hours, life admin, interruptions, illness, and other factors, employees overall feel their life-work balance is much improved since the pandemic started. The ability to start work earlier or later, to take time off to deal with family or other life admin, whilst continuing to deliver is a huge benefit for most. 

However, it is important to note that not everyone has experienced working from home, and the pandemic in the same way. Just because people are at home, does not mean that they are all having an enriching and fulfilling conversations and experiences all day.  

So, although over 70% of employees would prefer to work from home full time; with some flexibility to attend the office when needed, some are itching to get back to more ‘normal’ working approaches. 

Mental health and resilience

Change Curve - Mental Health and Resilience in PMO

Again, it may be that everyone in the team is on a different part of the change curve, and some are still bargaining with ourselves and our organisation before 

accepting the ‘new normal’. This comes down to the level of resilience that individuals can demonstrate, and the level of acceptance that change is the only constant. 

As project management professionals, it may be that we spend less time on the change curve. We impart change for a living, so are more likely to accept it with ease. But change is still inherently hard to ‘do’, so ensuring that we are working to improve our, and our team’s resilience will promote growth and effectiveness. 

How PMO and PPM Practitioners can prepare for 2022

Ways of Working

  1. Take some time to understand your strengths and weaknesses in the new work economy. You can use the Wellingtone series of MOT tools to sense check your PMO, your individuals, or systems for free to give you an idea of where you should focus first.
  2. Consider completing a full maturity assessment as it creates a perfect case for change that you can utilise with your key Stakeholders.
  3. Review and revise your working practices to match the needs of the organisation (your Customers) in the ‘new normal, whatever that means for you. Remember to be pragmatic, if projects managed to get delivered over the last year without 15 touchpoints of governance, then they can probably continue to do so! Also, consider the virtual working challenges and how that might change your proposed approaches.
  4. Don’t ignore or underestimate the importance of tightening up your Risk Management approach so that you are able to better deal with ambiguity and issues as they arise both as a delivery, PMO, and wider team.
  5. Re-write your PMO Service Catalogue to ensure that your Customers know what and how the PMO is adding value to the delivery teams.
  6. Revisit your PMO Roadmap to understand if the PMO has fundamentally changed over the last two years and what course corrections are needed. If you haven’t got a roadmap, consider using the Wellingtone PMO 3D Transformation service which brings together the best elements of our PMO suite to help you Define, Design, and get ready to Deliver your new PMO in a short and accessible engagement.
  7. Get to know what other PMOs are doing in the industry, consider joining networking events, communities where you can learn and share with your peers.
  8. When looking for training and education, don’t simply select the most cost-effective option, check credentials and accreditations to ensure content has been independently assessed. 

People and Teams

  1. When booking training, consider where you and your team are on the change curve! If the response is “classroom is better than virtual”, consider that we may still be in the denial phase of this (not so new) trend. 
  2. Find ways to boost individual and team resilience through the promotion of community and support.  
  3. Consider some change management education so that the team understand their position and approach to change, as well as how they can bring better change management to their day job. 
  4. Build a community of practice to develop a culture of learning that is accessible to everyone who is involved or interested in the world of project management. 

As we get ready to move into 2022 these considerations and steps can create a solid foundation for your FuturePMO with teams and individuals that are not just enabled with appropriate structure, but with the confidence to deliver value to their customers.