Digital Transformation and PMO

Digital transformation for businesses is increasingly becoming a survival strategy, not a choice. Digital initiatives are the top priority for 2019, according to Gartner’s latest CIO survey.  Only 4% of organisations have no digital initiative at all, which signals a shift from digital as an option to digital as a mainstream platform. See link:

Transformation strategies are different from one business to another, based on the organisation’s operational agility, culture, leadership, etc. However, almost all organisations will deliver their digital transformation strategy via a capital investment in projects and programs, and this is how the role of a program or portfolio management office (PMO) becomes so pivotal to the success of the digital transformation strategy.  These PMOs are being tasked by their executives to ensure that their investments in projects are returning the desired transformation goals and are delivered within budget and on-time.

The PMOs that are successful in delivering this mandate are the PMOs that:

  • Set up and manage a project/program governance process. This includes a pipeline management phase, which aligns new initiatives to the organisation’s transformation strategy, enabling it to triage them into an optimal portfolio of strategic projects to achieve the transformation’s strategic objectives.
  • Support the delivery of these projects by coaching, mentoring and assisting the project managers, not on the concepts of project management (although these should offered to any PM who lacks them), but on their governance process, to make sure it is followed all the time. PMOs need to sell these processes to the PMs, ensuring that PMs don’t perceive them as a bureaucratic overhead, but as an enabling mechanism within their business.
  • Setup and operate a project portfolio management (PPM) tool, that fills the gap between the operating tools that are used by project managers to manage their projects and the visibility required by the business to manage and direct their capital investment in the portfolio.

By delivering the above, PMOs are able to help their leadership team to ‘do the right projects’ and help the delivery teams (project managers and team members) to ‘deliver projects right’ – which means the delivery of projects on time, on budget and the strategic goals of the transformation to their business.

Qualities of the PMOs that operate between the transformation strategy and projects/program delivery are evident; they are very mature when it comes to project portfolio management – hitting level 4 (Effective Integration) or level 5 (Effective Innovation) on Gartner Group’s PPM Maturity Matrix (see below).

Using their PPM tools, they also gain visibility on accurate, real-time project information and status, and consistency in the way projects are delivered, enabling them – and as result enabling the business – to fill the gap between the bottom-up information flow coming from project and program managers, and the top-down alignment and controls required by the business.