Author: Dalene Grobler

What PMO leaders and executives are doing to secure their seat at the strategy table

I was privileged to lead the discussion at the recent Gauteng PMO forum (an invitation-only interest group under the umbrella of Project Management South Africa (PMSA))…

on what successful project management office (PMO) leaders and executives are doing to secure their seat at the strategy table. PMI’s Pulse of the Profession™ reports over the last couple of years consistently indicate that an organization’s success can be directly linked to its project success.

For this reason, more and more organizations realize that the PMO has so much more to offer. The PMO is no longer just the secretariat, executor or auditor, but also the strategist, analyst and trusted advisor with the required knowledge and experience to advance the organization’s strategic agenda. But what does it take to get there?

Critical skills for the Strategic Project Office

During lively group discussions, the session’s attendees made up of PMO professionals across various industries firstly considered what skills and capabilities the Strategic Project Office (SPO) should have and secondly, how they would go about building the required skills and capabilities. Some interesting themes emerged.

The ability to act and think strategically was highlighted by most of the groups as a critical skill for the SPO. The SPO should be the strategic facilitator, the corporate storyteller that not only understands the bigger picture but is also able to turn available data into meaningful pictures and stories that enable executives to make the right portfolio decisions. The SPO should be able to assist senior management in the translation of their vision and strategy into tangible programmes and projects. From the discussions it emerged that this step is often missed or neglected, leading to misalignment between what the executives expect and the work being done on the ground.

The SPO further needs a deep understanding of the business to unpack the real business need and whether it makes good business sense to invest in the initiative. The group felt that this would require an understanding of the current and possible future policies, practices, and trends affecting the business. There was a further