By Marisa Silva

2017 has seen the rise of the PMO. According to The State of Project Management Annual Report (2017), 85% of organisations in the UK have a PMO so it’s no surprise that this topic is so important for project-based organisations.

During this year, however, we saw more and more people talking about PMOs, writing about PMOs, setting up new PMOs, or transforming their PMOs.

For many, 2017 was a tipping point.

Indeed, this has been an extraordinary year for PMO professionals and, being passionate about all stuff PMO, we couldn’t be more enthusiastic about it here at Wellingtone!

Let facts speak for themselves: we had the long-awaited APM ‘PMO of the Year’ Award that was finally introduced, new training courses purposefully designed for PMO people being delivered (yes, I’m talking about the Wellingtone PMO Practitioner course), and the most fun and forward-thinking PMO event in town ever conceived; FuturePMO of course, bringing peers together for a legendary premier.

Even just remembering how much we accomplished this year gets me excited!

The highs don’t stop there though ladies and gentlemen, we are just getting the party started. If 2017 was great, 2018 promises to become even better.

Trust me, I’m a PMO professional.

The fast pace of change in today’s world is, simply put, crazy. It’s a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) world out there and change is now the new normal. Blockchain, machine learning, artificial intelligence, 3D printing, what the hell is all that about?

While this scenario may alarm some – and these words even confuse others – we, PMO people, enjoy change (we do, right?).

We enable it, we promote it, we live with it. That’s why we are looking forward for 2018.

Yogi Berra said it right: “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future”. Despite having studied Foresight at school, I’m not tempted to make predictions – the world always happens to surprise me. However, as an active member in the PMO community, here are my 2 cents on the opportunities and trends 2018 can provide us with:

  1. 1. Digitalisation and the Cloud
    Let me guess: you are either working on digitalisation or talking about doing so. Just like some time ago, having a website was imperative to be in business, nowadays, not thinking digital is to be left behind in the race. Digital is the topic of the moment and is just starting to gain mainstream traction, powered by that imaginary place called the ‘Cloud’.
    As PMOs, we do have a role to play in supporting the move to digital, leading the way by embracing the technological change as early adopters (if you are already using Power Bi or Microsoft Project Online for managing and reporting your portfolio of projects you certainly are one!), or by enabling the delivery of the digital expansion across the organisation. Companies need access to information anytime, anywhere and so will PMOs.
  2. 2. Big Data and Data Science
    Have a look at the professions that are in high demand and you are certainly going to find Data Scientist amongst them. The analysis of data and, in particular, big data, is disruptive to all industries and is definitely on the rise. It’s not just important to gather data but, more useful, to make sense of it, uncover patterns, and extrapolate findings to better get to know and anticipate your customers’ moves as well as to equip leadership teams with meaningful, actionable insights. PMOs spent a large part of their days prepping data, hence, big data can revolutionise their world.
    3. BOTs
    The world of BOTs for project management is still in its infancy but is developing at high speed. Siri, Cortana or Alexa are just some examples of how BOTs and mobile personal assistants can be useful and fun to use.
    While until now this area of innovation has been designed for generic office use, more recently BOTs specially designed for the project management and PMO space have started to appear in the market with the promise of assisting in boring and time-consuming administrative tasks or making life easier by automatically updating project plans or answering what is the latest cost estimate in just seconds. How cool is that? With the help of BOTs, PMOs can free up time to more value-adding activities putting this innovation amongst the ones we look forward in the upcoming year.
    4. Agile and Project Management Bricolage
    Not exactly a new topic but making the rounds more and more in the PMO world. As a mindset and approach for product delivery, Agile brings interesting challenges and opportunities for PMOs, such as governance arrangements, reporting structure, or business case assessment. Additionally, following the same key logic that applies to PMOs, where no one size fits all, projects are increasingly being managed in dual systems or even as an exercise of bricolage, where different approaches meet and are deconstructed and rearranged, in an attempt to find what works best for the project. To accommodate such differences, PMOs need to acquire sufficient competencies to support these approaches as well as allow for just enough flexibility while maintaining oversight, in a tricky balance of chaos and order.
    5. Professionalisation
    Considering all the above, having the right competencies in the PMO team is crucial for success and to risk it with accidental PMO staff can lead to disaster in the long term. Make no mistake: the competencies required to be a great project manager are not the same as the ones required for PMOs. We have distinct functions; hence, we require different skill sets. It’s not uncommon to find a situation where PMO professionals are left to learn the practice of their jobs on their own or relying in established project management qualifications which, although useful, don’t reflect the reality of their role nor the competencies that they need the most. To that end, we now start seeing PMO certifications appearing on the market, such as the PMO Value Ring, which, when supported by robust competency assessment and development, help professionalise PMO practitioners and give to these individuals the recognition their role deserves. As PMOs, we are no longer just a supporting function or an add-on; rather, we should be an acknowledged, competent, and capable business partner and value-added function. Strive for no less.

If the list above is not challenging enough for you, there is, of course, the usual suspects, such as the increasing focus on portfolio management or benefits realisation, two functions that are dear to PMOs. In fact, as PMO practitioners very well know, excellence is all about the fine balance between satisfying the current demand and sustaining value while also forecasting, improving, and preparing for the future.

We, PMO people, are ready. Come on now, 2018. Surprise us.

Early-bird tickets for FuturePMO 2018 are now on sale! Click here to find out more about the PMO conference and book now!