Digital transformation and the evolving role of the PMO

Digital transformation has been sweeping through organisations of all shapes and sizes in an attempt to keep up with evolving demands and needs of an increasingly digitized world. However, many are realizing that successful digital transformation is much more than implementing digital tools but involves changing foundational cultures, structures and methodologies. As organisations evolve to accommodate this change, so too must the role of the PMO in organisations. 

In this blog, we will explore the impact of digital transformation on PMOs and how PMOs can better position themselves as positive drivers of successful digital transformation. 

Digital Transformation and its impact on PMOs

Digital transformation is no new concept. Businesses are always striving to find new ways to adapt and leverage emerging technologies to improve their business processes. As our world becomes increasingly digitized, digital-based transformations are becoming more prevalent. Prior to the pandemic, research from PTC showed that 70% of organisations already had a digital transformation strategy in place or were working on one.

This would come as no surprise as digital transformation, when done right, can bring a whole range of benefits starting from improved operational efficiency and product quality to increased customer satisfaction and reduced development costs.  The pandemic simply accelerated this oncoming wave of digital transformation. 

With the necessary shift to remote work and increasing customer demand for online services, organisations had to quickly adapt to new technologies and many of these changes are here to stay. In fact, according to the IMF,  65% of the world’s GDP is predicted to be digitized by 2022. 

However, we now know that digital transformation requires more than simply introducing new tools and calling it a day. Many of our historic traditional conventions of work, organisational culture, processes and mindset cannot be completely carried through into digital space. Adapting to the shift to flexible work hours, dispersed teams, constant 24/7 demand in an increasingly fast-paced and volatile market requires a deep foundational change in organisation practices, culture, and structure.

As the strategic arm and backbone of an organisation, the PMO plays a critical role in achieving an organisation’s strategic goals by ensuring that the right tools, processes, and cultures are in place to produce suitable conditions and meet requirements for project success. Traditionally, this entailed extensive reporting standards and excessive processes that earned the PMO its unfavourable nickname as the ‘project police’. Traditional PMOs have become synonymous with bureaucratic practices and excessive over documentation that not only adds unnecessary work to teams but also makes any new change implementation a slow and arduous process. 

However, if PMOs are truly to be the strategic drivers of an organisation, their role must evolve beyond their traditional confines of ‘ standards enforcer’ and fully step into their strategic role by pioneering change and leveraging opportunities that arise in the digital space. If digital is the future, how can PMOs not be at the forefront?

Future PMOs need to be at the forefront of up and coming technologies, constantly evaluating new opportunities and introducing different strategies that will enable the organisation to make the most out of the available technologies. But change never comes easy. Many organisations have deep-rooted cultures and practices that make the transition into fully digitally optimised environments challenging. 

The recent pandemic and sudden shift to remote work have shown us the challenges of community and culture development through digital spaces. It has also taught us that our prior conventions of work – the classic 9 to 5 in the office – may not be the most effective or productive approach. With all these changes, revelations and new experiences, PMOs need to not only introduce practices that optimise processes and provide quality data for decision-making but also ensure the right culture, practices and environment are created to foster greater adoption and investment into the organisation’s digital strategy.

Here are some ways PMOs can drive digital transformation in your organisation.

5 ways the PMO drives digital transformation

1. PMOs can inspire and encourage change

No one takes to change easily, especially if your organisation does not have a pre-existing culture that is accustomed to change and growth. One of the most critical components of a successful digital transformation is gaining buy-in from all key stakeholders. They need to know why this change is important, how it can benefit the organisation and how it can benefit them specifically. By making the benefits of the change personal, teams are more likely to want to invest in digital transformation initiatives. 

Additionally, making sure that people know their opinions are heard and have influence also plays a critical role in building buy-in. PMOs can introduce clear feedback systems that make sure all relevant feedback is easily provided, evaluated and actioned.

2. PMOs act as the strategic arm

PMOs need to make sure that their digital transformation strategy aligns with the organisation’s overarching strategy. For example, there is no use investing in the most high-end project management software if your organisation is trying to cut costs and only requires basic project management tools. However, PMOs also need to understand the strategic value of digital technology investments and be able to quantify, justify and execute plans they believe would provide the most value to the organisation.

3. PMOs provide support and insight

Digital transformation programs are often large scale enterprise-wide initiatives that require continual support and higher-level insight to inform its progress and evaluate its success. With the help of an effective PPM solution, PMOs can easily provide support for the organisation’s employees through virtual portals while also gathering Big Data to help evaluate how effective and efficient the new tools are. Providing support and insight not only helps ease digital technology adoption but also gives greater evidence to the success of these initiatives that can act as justification for future digital transformation investments.

4. PMOs properly manage transformations

Introducing new technology often involves including new teams and building new skills to make sure the adoption process is as smooth as possible. As the central hub of truth, PMOs are able to see the big picture impact of digital transformation initiatives, manage potential bottlenecks or pressure points and optimise their ongoing processes to make sure digital transformation initiatives are successful. Managing digital transformation involves making sure that all the necessary resources, skills, feedback systems, and data collection practices are in place.

5. PMOs enable successful digital adoption

PMOs can help show employees just how exciting and useful tools can be to increase employee engagement and investment into a new tool. From providing interactive demos to hosting learning sessions, PMOs have the critical role of getting people excited about the digital initiative, giving them all the necessary resources they need to effectively use or implement the digital tool and encouraging greater usage of the tools or process. When more people use the tool there is more data to properly evaluate the digital initiatives’ overall effectiveness. 

Some ways to encourage greater usage of tools or processes can be through highlighting successes made through the digital initiative with teams and throughout the organisation. If people can see how the initiative is benefiting others, they may be more inclined to try to make it work for themselves.

Get started on your digital transformation program with pmo365

What better way to get started on your digital transformation program than partnering with leading PPM experts and building a solution that meets your exact needs? pmo365 is a Microsoft endorsed Project Portfolio Management solution that designs fit for purpose PPM solutions that cater to your unique business needs and aim to give you complete visibility and control over your organisation and its projects.

If you want to know more about how pmo365 can help your digital transformation program, make sure to chat with our experts and see our solution in action!

Bill Allars

Bill Allars

Bill is a Business Development Manager with 20+ of experience in Project and Portfolio Management, Project Administration, Risk Management and Process Redevelopment.

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