A project management office (PMO) is there to manage and deliver change agendas, yet they can become places of rigid structure that struggle to change. It can be a common pitfall in a new PMO to have rigid structures and not be adaptable, and we’re looking at how to avoid this.

It is a balancing act that every PMO will need to go through – being structured enough to deliver regular results yet adaptable enough to work in an ever-changing business environment.

Knowing this is a challenge from the start of creating your PMO, we’re going to explore:

How to ensure your PMO set-up is adaptable from the start

Working with your project managers to maintain open structures

Ensuring accountability as you change PMO expectations

How do I build adaptability into my new PMO?

It is vital that your PMO has a structure and that you’re aware of the roles and responsibilities of your office and the people within it. This structure will ensure that everyone in your office knows what is expected, and those working above and alongside know what you will deliver.

A key way to make sure your PMO can adapt to changing landscapes and projects is to use a project methodology such as Agile. Adopting agile principles into the projects your office overseas will ensure change can be embraced, and the structures in place aren’t too rigid.

When you’re planning the roles and responsibilities of your office, focus on the outcomes you need to be delivered. While there will need to be an element of governance, you should empower your people to get their work done in a way that works for them.

Maintain a strong relationship with stakeholders and take on feedback positively. Having a closed-door approach and not being ready to listen to input will mean your office sticks to what it knows rather than changing with business and project needs.

How can a PMO work with project managers in a flexible way?

When you create a PMO, it’s likely that the projects you bring under your purview haven’t had direct monitoring and reporting before. You will need to work with project managers to help them understand the function of your PMO and that you’re not there to stifle their work.

As a PMO, you can empower your project managers by:

  • Providing a project framework that allows for flexibility
  • Ensuring they can access education and training resources to improve their skills
  • Building a feedback loop so managers can help effect change at the PMO level
  • Bringing administrative tasks into the PMO and freeing project teams to deliver their work

When your project managers know they have the space to be effective and the support to deliver their goals, they will be successful, and this will reflect in your PMO’s results as well.

How does adapting within a PMO affect KPIs?

Your KPIs are how your sponsor, the C-suite, and some of your stakeholders can understand your effectiveness. It’s important to adhere to them but also to review them, so they are fit for purpose.

The business your PMO operates in will change over time so you need to have a set of targets and KPIs that are able to change with it. Your targets should reflect the strategic aims of the business, and this core principle can’t be forgotten due to your overly rigid PMO.

Schedule a regular review of the KPIs you measure your PMO against. The review should look at what has changed and what has remained the same within the business, how the projects you oversee have delivered, and what changes have happened internally and externally.

Creating an adaptable and flexible PMO

While you don’t want to be regularly moving the goalposts and changing what you’re aiming for in your PMO, you do need to be ready to change to new circumstances, such as budget cuts or reduced headcount.  

If you can embed a level of flexibility into your PMO from the start, you will avoid a major pitfall of creating a PMO.

  1. Encourage flexible thinking and a culture of continuous improvement.
  2. Foster open communication and collaboration.
  3. Empower project teams to make decisions.
  4. Regularly review and adjust processes as needed.
  5. Have a flexible approach to project and portfolio management methodologies.
  6. Embrace agile and lean principles.
  7. Avoid micromanagement and over-reliance on hierarchies.
  8. Encourage experimentation and innovation.