Program Management Office (PMO) 2.0

It is largely accepted, that for the success of any large-scale transformation effort it is imperative to start out by first setting clear aspiration levels, completing a detailed assessment of the organisation’s current position and defining required actions to achieve the set goals. However, it is often overlooked that once these steps are concluded an effective Program Management Office (PMO) will be vital to a successful implementation.

In most change efforts, PMOs are restricted to tracking basic metrics like % projects on time and budget, which severely limits their effectiveness.

How a PMO contributes to success across setup, testing, scaling phase of a large-scale transformation

1.) Installation of the Program Management Office:

Once the preparatory work for the transformation is complete, a PMO needs to be installed. As the role should aim to go beyond simple tracking of KPIs, it must also bring change management and content expertise to the table in order to identify resistance of frontline staff early on and help with bottlenecks. The role may even include a mandate to develop mindsets and devise marketing campaigns to promote the effort internally.

The level of intervention by the PMO will vary by individual initiative depending on skill level available in each team and coordination effort needed. It is also likely to vary over the course of the transformation effort.

The key tasks of the PMO include supporting the setup of an effective program structure that builds ownership as well as to identify and address barriers to change among the individuals involved.

In order to monitor and track progress, the PMO will need to set up a performance management system that can provide timely information on financial performance, operational KPIs and overall health of the transformation effort like employee motivation and satisfaction.

To facilitate communication with the rest of the organization, a PMO charter should be set up detailing the PMO objectives, the organizational model (incl. what it will and won’t do) and the tools and reporting requirements. It must be written up at the beginning of the effort and communicated across the entire organization. This will help the teams and management understand what is expected from them and what they can expect to get from the PMO.

2) Use the PMO in testing phase for monitoring and coaching:

The role of the PMO is to monitor not only adherence to milestones and targets but also to monitor health of the entire effort and identify early warning signs should the effort get off track (e.g. employee resistance, loss of motivation, technical or organisational roadblocks). It should also provide coaching and guidance or escalate the need for additional resources if needed.

This is true both in the first round of pilots that validate the concept through small experiments, as well as in the second round of pilots that test the feasibility of subsequently rolling out the individual initiatives across the entire organization.

3) Leverage PMO in scaling phase to ensure change capability is build up across entire organization

After the pilot phase, successful pilot experiments will be selected for organization-wide roll-out in a linear, exponential or big-bang approach. The roll of the PMO will, similar to the testing phase, be to identify resistance and roadblocks early. In addition, the PMO can now be instrumental to ensure that change capability is build up by passing learnings from managers of the pilot teams to the management of the respective next wave of implementing teams. If this process is effective, change capability will be build up across the entire organization. This can subsequently be instrumental in setting up the organization on a path of continuous change and renewal once the transformation process is completed.