PMI Bangalore Chapter

PM Article

PMO: Smooth Disruption through Change Management

Uma H L

With more than 28 years in the IT industry and an alumnus of UVCE, Uma has rich experience across organizations like IBM India, PCL Mindware and TCS. As a program and portfolio manager with IBM India, Uma has delivered multiple programs apart from driving various project management and lean initiatives. Uma has been recognized with “Eminence and Excellence” award multiple times. Uma is currently a portfolio management consultant with SABCONS.

From the age of Darwin, it has been proven that only those who can transform themselves by embracing disruptions around them, survive: be it human beings or organizations. Digital transformation, rapidly changing business environment, tight budgets plus the need to deliver value are all driving intense and disruptive changes across organizations. 

Managing such changes so as to ensure that these disruptions do not break the entire system, it needs a robust and mature organization. The Project Management Office, the PMO in short, architects project management enabling organizations to embrace these disruptions, thus helping them attain or sustain the leadership position.

The role of PMO has gained importance over the years. Number of organizations with PMO has increased from 47% in 2000 to 85% in 2016; 95% of organizations with revenue greater than $1B have a dedicated PMO; number of PMs reporting to PMO has increased from 42% in 2012 to 52% in 2016 and nearly 50% of PMOs report directly to Clevel executives.

As shown in Fig.1, there are three types of PMO – Supportive, Controlling or Directive PMO. In a Supportive role, the PMO supports project managers by way of providing templates, managing PMIS, sharing best practices and providing necessary training to enhance project management capability across the organization. As a Controlling PMO, they provide frameworks, setup governance across projects, ensure conformance, roll out tools, processes and standards across projects. They guide project managers in taking corrective actions, as and when necessary. A Directive PMO, on the other hand, controls the projects by directly managing them. The governance framework is strong with greater command on processes and policies.

To make sure we setup the right type of PMO, we need to assess the maturity of the PMO. The PMO maturity is defined as per Table 1.

Assessing the PMO capability across five focus areas helps determine the PMO maturity level and identify the right type of PMO required.

From hand-holding new project managers to driving policies, processes and organization-wide initiatives, the PMO plays a vital role in steering an organization.

A case study of the acquisition of Strasburger Enterprises, a unit of Mobil Oil, by 7-Eleven in Australia provides a reallife scenario of how a PMO has been instrumental in architecting project management activities of an acquisition, embracing disruption and steering the organization to find a place in the top 50 retailers across the world.

In order to expand the business and increase marketshare, 7-Eleven acquired Strasburger Enterprises in 2010. This acquisition resulted in an increase of 295 outlets for 7-Eleven, leading to a 75% increase in transactions and 50% increase in sales. The PMO drove this Organizational change by setting a common framework, defining clear objectives with clear timelines. Communicating key objectives to stakeholders with a framework to track store performance helped 7Eleven sail through the transition smoothly. A phased approach, good governance with relevant KPIs proved effective. To sustain this change, the PMO developed a common framework with individual store development plan to identify performance gaps at each store and address the same.

With this acquisition, 7-Eleven became the third largest retailer in Australia. The new look of 7-Eleven stores with better lighting and spacious aisles with customer-friendly staff has brought a significant increase in customer satisfaction, resulting in increased sales. 7-Eleven has since then consistently retained its position among the top 50 retailers across the world.

This case study thus proves, Disruption is key to stay ahead of competition and PMO is key to help embrace such disruption.