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Building the Project Management Office of the Future

The Project Management Office (PMO) is an important aspect of successful project and program delivery. But as the world grows more “projectized”—and more digital—the PMO is changing. Joe Cahill spoke with Vice President of Project Management at Accelerant Holdings, Adam Selverian, to discuss the future of the PMO.

As the world grows more “projectized,” it’s likely that the Project Management Office (PMO) at many organizations will increase in importance in helping teams to successfully deliver value through projects and programs. But what does the future of the PMO look like, compared to what we have known over past decades?

It’s increasingly clear that success will depend on much more than mastering technical skills; PMO leaders will need to be cognizant of managing the people and cultural aspects of driving change. 

PMI’s Chief Customer Officer, Joseph Cahill, recently sat down for a wide-ranging discussion with Adam Selverian, Vice President of Project Management at Accelerant Holdings, a leading technology-enabled and data-driven insurance platform. Adam is also a lead instructor at Penn State University’s project management program.

Adam recently partnered with PMI in developing a video series providing bite-sized lessons focused on diving in on the nuts and bolts of the PMO of the future. Adam’s videos touch on everything from the first steps necessary in establishing a PMO to issues involving governance and metrics. 

Joe caught up with Adam to discuss some of the implications of the findings and his own experiences in transforming Project Management Offices to meet today’s challenges—and aligning their work to broader strategic goals.

You can watch the full conversation here:

Here are a few insights and take-aways from their conversation and previous videos in the series:

  • When starting up a PMO, it’s crucial to take a snapshot of where the organization is today in respect to a few key dimensions: organizational culture, the strategic goals of the broader organization and the people and resources available to the PMO. Interviewing organization leaders and project managers across the organization is a powerful way to identify some of the pain points and assets; also, take time to speak with stakeholders, who may have some of the most valuable insights into where challenges lay that the PMO should focus on.
  • Today’s PMO “is not a static thing. It’s constantly evolving,” Joe observed. Adam stressed the need for PMOs to be flexible in partnering with organizations and stakeholders to meet their goals.
  • PMOs need to customize their cultures to fit their organizations in order to be successful; PMOs often have to overcome the perception that they are going to overwhelm the organization with excessive rules and regulations.
  • Different ways of working are expanding to include newer approaches including hyper agility, citizen development, hybrid approaches and people-centered “power skills.” As Adam put it, “projects are people.” Given the increased interest in areas like agile and hybrid project management, it’s crucial that PMOs provide a greater range of choice for professionals in meeting their project needs.

One thing is clear from Adam’s vantage point: PMOs aren’t going anywhere. He pushed back on the perspective that PMOs may potentially become a relic of the past; “I think they’re absolutely critical if done correctly.” In his words, PMOs should be built to “remove obstacles to enable the organization to be successful.”

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