COVID-19 and Recovering the Project Management Office
Since COVID-19, the role of the Project Management Office (PMO) and how people lead projects have evolved.
How COVID-19 has affected the PMO Environment:
- IT projects have been canceled or put on hold
- Reduction in overall IT spend
- Additional strain on IT project resources due to layoffs, furloughs, and reductions in workforce
- Existing projects forced to rely on insufficient project management resources
- Remote meetings and other virtual limitations have changed the day to day processes and effectiveness of the PMO
Today’s PMOs are experiencing delays in their projects, and for those projects that haven’t been canceled or put on hold, there is a noticeable skill level and experience gap. Because of the strain being put on existing IT resources, there has also been a reportable decrease in satisfaction levels and quality of work, which is starting to have an impact on things like morale and even company culture.
Released in February of this year, the Project Management Institute’s 2020 Pulse of the Profession® revealed that 11.4 percent of every dollar or $114million for every $1 billion invested in projects is wasted due to poor performance. This, coupled with the additional pressures of COVID-19, proves that there is a lot at stake to ensure projects are being delivered on time and as effectively as possible.
To prepare for the future, the PMO needs to embrace three important steps to move beyond the pandemic:
- Organizations have found success in creating a shared services model within the PMO. Not only does this model allow them to plan better, but it also enables project transparency, increases efficiency, creates structure, and provides better financial oversight. Planning has always been important but post-COVID-19 it will be the path forward.
- Embrace Agility. Commit to using one communication and incident management tool to make the PMO the most efficient it can be. Anything additional convolutes the process and delivery. This is especially important for those PMOs using both full-time employees and external contractors, which most do. Having different types of resources also enables agility – defined as the ability to maintain systems, add, remove or replace equipment, and update subsystems and methodologies. As the market changes, especially as rapidly as it has been in a COVID-19 environment, IT must be responsive and adaptable. System agility, resourcing agility, and an agile mindset will be key.
- Add Critical Resources. Hire re-deployable resources for your environment and project pipeline. While it may be a challenge to plan too far ahead in a COVID-19 world, follow the common denominators, and hire for the talent you know you will need. The more you can hire ahead of time, the better – especially in this market. Once you have project management talent, be sure to retain them by any means necessary. Great Project Management staff is extremely hard to come by and it’s only going to become more difficult. Be flexible, compensate appropriately, treat them well, and keep them engaged.
Today’s IT leaders must show a great deal of discipline when it comes to managing the PMO. Chasing projects that will easily go over budget or get sidetracked will result in losing out on an opportunity to transform and optimize the PMO which, most likely, needed some level of reform even before the pandemic. Culture is and will continue to be critical. Support the team by encouraging them to pursue additional certifications when possible and by nurturing their skills – technically but also their soft skills, including leadership and people skills. The IT projects that are on the horizon will demand greatness from all of us. Let’s be ready!