Leadership in the PMO: How PMOs can evolve into smart PMOs

Leadership in a PMO is more than just being able to deliver projects on time and within budget. The Savvy PMO promotes organizational agility, fosters efficiency, and drives growth strategies.
They provide the executive with informed counsel on important business decisions like which projects to prioritize, where to spend, how to align and realign employees in response to changes, and many other topics.
Some PMOs find it difficult to move beyond a focus on project management, which can hinder agility and growth. To become a skilled PMO leader, the PMO must work together to adapt processes, support multiple methods of work, and reexamine their toolset.
Planview created the Savvy PMO Guide Series in order to provide organizations with actionable guidance about how to improve their PMO leadership. Your PMO can be a more agile, strategic advisor to your business – whether you are under immediate pressure to make business-critical decisions or want to improve your PPM capabilities.
This quick-start guide will help you become a Savvy PMO.
The Journey to Become a Savvy PMO
To become a Savvy PMO, you must first identify the next areas of focus in order to grow maturity. This table summarizes the approach each person takes to their role.
The PMO’s Initial FocusThe Savvy PMO’s FocusComplete projects on time and on budgetGuide stakeholders to prioritize projects, taking into account resource capacity to ensure delivery of the right projects on time and on budget.Day-to-day execution, stardarding workflowsGuidance, collaboration, and planningTop-down governance – Emphasis on compliance, standards, and processes”Just-enough” governance to speed execution and ensure everyone delivers on strategyA one-size-fits all, project-centric methodologyFlexible approach: Support traditional projects, plus iterative, agile work methodsCentralize project information, manage resources, track project statusExpand PPM capabilities in demand management, prioritization, and resource planningBasic PPM tools, project management tools and spreadsheetsCentralized PPM tool to enable portfolio management competencies and provide visibility beyond project status
Initial PMOs focus more on governance and tactical execution. These competencies are essential for a successful PMO.

Some PMOs are too rigid about their processes, methods, and tools. This results in rigidity and excellence in execution for every project that passes through the pipeline.
PMOs that don’t evolve could be consigned to managing projects that help the business run, rather than strategic projects. The PMO could be restructured or phased out if it does not evolve.
The Characteristics Of A Savvy PMO
Working as a Savvy PMO is a benefit. It allows you to create and sustain business value. This requires that you let go of some control in order to foster agility and innovation. Although some oversight is important, the Savvy PMO is more of a servant leader than a strategic advisor to the organization.
The primary focus is on collaboration, portfolio-based management, rather than strict governance and delivering projects on schedule and within budget.
The most successful PMOs have the right amount of governance to allow execution while still ensuring that everyone is doing what’s most important. They are well-versed in demand management, prioritization, resource planning, and other key skills.
PMO leadership gives executives and stakeholders visibility and reports that drive faster, more informed decision making by centralizing and integrating these disciplines.
Savvy PMO leaders are no longer a bureaucratic entity. They have become trusted guides. They have access to the most recent data and can make sound recommendations. They can help prioritize high-value projects and allocate the right resources to them.
The PMO will become more focused on creating business value.