A Quick Guide for PMOs on how to be an Instrument of Integration

A Quick Guide for PMOs on how to be an Instrument of Integration

A few weeks ago, we introduced our readers to the Principles that make a PMO and PMO regardless of style, maturity level, and strategy. We reached out to the PMO Community to bring to life each principle through experience and thought-provoking articles that will help organisations to develop their PMO to the next level.

This week we have the second instalment in that series and introduce Elise Stevens from Fix My Project Chaos and delivers coaching, mentoring, resources, and training to turn high level conceptual goals into operational reality. Elise chose PMO Principle #3: Serving the Customer.

This principle focused on the fact that PMOs are integrators. By being a communicating bridge between strategy planning and strategy execution, they bring together processes, practices, methods, knowledge, and people from all over the organisation through community, knowledge, and continuous improvement activities to enable a systemic and holistic view, ensuring that the various elements of the portfolio are properly coordinated and consistently delivered.

Elise brings to life this principle with insights into some of the things that PMOs can do to truly use this principle.

In utopia, all change initiatives would succeed. All the desired benefits would be achieved, the people engaged with the new ways of work and the organisation transformed.
Yet reality is sometimes very different. Not all change initiatives deliver the estimated benefits and the people are often disengaged. One of the reasons for this lack of success is due to the lack of integration in one or all the components (people, process and technology).

How can organisations solve this problem? Empower the PMO to provide oversight to integration activities. Be the instrument of integration for the organisation.

Change and Disruption is the new normal

The rate of change and disruption being felt by organisations continues to be significant. The change is being driven by evolving customer expectations, digital disruption, operating cost pressures, shifts in workforce patterns and evolving business models.

Organisations expect their PMOs to evolve and change with them. Adding real business value is key to ensuring that the PMO remains functional and relevant. The good news is that PMOs possess the potential to add both strategic and tactical business value by using their knowledge, skills and insight.

PMOs have the potential to be key integrators of change initiatives

While PMOs may not have a direct role in the implementing change initiatives, they can have a significant role in the integration aspects of the change. PMOs have the capability, visibility, knowledge and insight to:

  • Bring people, processes, practices, methods and knowledge together involved in the delivery of the change
  • Foster a culture of collaboration, community and continuous improvement with all stakeholders
  • Ensure that the elements of the portfolio are properly coordinated and consistently delivered
  • Be the bridge between strategy planning and strategy execution
    Add significant business value to the delivery and adoption of change initiatives

4 things the PMO can do to be an instrument of integration

Here are 4 things that the PMOs can do to be a successful instrument of integration:

  1. Understand what the integration gaps are
    Never underestimate the importance of understanding where the organisation currently is in terms of integration. Knowing what is working and not working today is vital to understanding what the issues are. Key information gathering activities are:

    • Engaging with key stakeholders to understand what is and isn’t working – in person or via survey
    • Observation of the current environment including the political and power structures
    • Reviewing the progress to date
    • Review of the issue and risk registers
    • Review of lessons learnt documentation
    • Review of internal social media content (eg Yammer)

    The information gathered can be used as an input into the identification of the current integration gaps.

  2. Create the vision and goals for the integration activities
    It is important not to underestimate the important of a high-level overarching vision and detailed goals from an integration perspective. Being able to clearly and concisely communicate the integration vision, will enable others to engage the initiative. The vision and goals should include:

    • Inspirational vision statements that have meaning and are inspiring
    • SMART goals
    • Align to the strategic goals/business plan for the organisation
  3. Develop the action plan
    Action plans are used as a blueprint on how to address the current integration gaps and achieve the agreed goals. Developing a practical action plan is critical to ensuring that the goals are achieved.As a minimum the action plan should include:

    • Link to the agreed integration goals and the current integration gaps
    • Enough detail to enable execution of the tasks
    • Required outcomes to be achieved
    • Track the progress of the tasks
    • Commentary on the task
  4. Champion integration and collaboration across the organisation
    PMOs can have a role to play in foster a culture of integration and collaboration across the organisation. If the organisation lacks this type of culture, then the PMO can showcase and model the integration and collaboration approach to work. Here are 5 things PMOs can do foster an integration and collaboration culture:

    1. Ensure effective teamwork is recognised and rewarded
    2. Encourage all team members to be involved in direction setting and problem solving
    3. Promote a “learning team” culture
    4. Celebrate successes, review opportunities for improvement
    5. Implement continuous improvement principles and processes

    Effective integration is an important component for delivering successful change. PMOs have the skills, knowledge and insight to provide this vital task. By empowering the PMO to be an instrument of integration, organisations will gain crucial support for their change initiatives.

Fix My PMO Principles - Elise Stephens

The PMO principles are covered in depth in the APM Accredited PMO Practitioner 2-day Course.