PMO as CEO: 5 Ways PMOs Can Transform Business from the Top Down

Insights | 05 September 2017

Is your PMO building a business or simply pushing process?

Don’t worry if you mentally raised a hand at the second part of that question. You are not alone.

At a recent Agile conference in the UK, this issue was tackled head on and panelists urged PMO leaders to “act like a CEO” and drive true experimentation. In other words, enable, not control. Tweet: PMO leaders should “act like a CEO” & drive true experimentation. Enable, not control.

Taking the above advice into consideration, what else must ambitious PMOs understand in order to succeed?

Drawing from recent industry conferences and other emergent data, here are five essential opportunities for you or your PMO to drive the business agility conversation, like a boss.

  1. Understand the stakes

The idea of the “Agile PMO” is here to stay. After all, Agile companies breeze past their non-Agile peers. According to a 2015 piece titled “Building an Agile Organisation”[1] in The CEO Magazine. “[They] grow revenue 37 percent faster than their competitors, generate 30 percent higher profits, and outperform their peers on every efficiency, customer, and employee measure.” And it’s truly about survival. “Nine out of ten executives believe today’s pace of change makes agility important for survival…,” the piece continued, not simply performance.

  1. Go lean

“If your organisation is reliant on a single business model, product or service to guarantee its ongoing survival then safe to say it is in a precarious state. You’re only one technology innovation, customer loyalty switch or economic decision away from irrelevance.”[2] Strong statement, but undeniably true. This quote comes from Barry O’Reilly, based on presentations given at the recently concluded Agile Australia conference. O’Reilly is the co-author of “Lean Enterprise: How High Performance Organisations Innovate At Scale.”

  1. Deliver value

This is something heard time and again when it comes to Agile transformation. No one is going to ‘buy in’ if the value isn’t recognised front and centre.

The PMO must continuously be analysing and improving its ability to provide predictability of business outcomes, as well as safeguard and deliver business value at an accelerated pace. Tweet: The PMO must improve its ability to provide predictability of business outcomes, while delivering business value

A strong understanding of how to add value to the business and how each initiative within the portfolio is prioritised to align with business objectives is a must for the PMO. They also need to know how to foster a collaborative environment and identify problems early. Finally, they need to continuously adapt, create new capability and help the business in advance of its next challenge. Tweet: PMOs need to continuously adapt, create new capability and help the business in advance of its next challenge.

  1. Challenge the status quo

Nothing will doom the nascent leadership dreams of a talented PMO than being seen as the “process police”. When you look at the key differences between an Agile PMO and a traditional PMO, Agile requires a shift in thinking and working from an ‘old school task master’ to ‘facilitation and leadership’.

  1. Slay inertia

Lastly, every PMO has a clear mandate, whether they accept it or not, to break through the fog of inertia that has claimed many a project, division, even company. But how? “The antidote to inertia is leadership,” wrote Michael Hatfield in his book, “Things Your PMO is Doing Wrong.” And leaders, he continued, must be able to articulate a compelling vision to overcome bodies at “rest.” If your vision, he wrote, “is so complicated or nuanced that the PMO staff cannot readily understand it, it’s probably fundamentally flawed.”[3]

In the end, the best PMOs, the one really digging in, will inevitably find themselves at a crossroads, at which time they will need to choose: Am I a leader or a follower? Like these experts suggest, the opportunity is there for the taking.

Or as the writer of the CEO magazine piece Vanessa Gavan expressed:

“[Agile leaders position] adaptability and innovation as essential tools for growth, making change less threatening and stressful for everyone. In a world defined by change, that is the most essential attribute of all.”

Is your PMO under pressure to drive change and deliver value?

Our PMO Services are designed to provide you with the necessary experience, advice and tools for every step of your PMO development. Contact us on 1300 70 13 14 to find out how we can help.


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