Is the Program Management Office in your organization relegated to merely collecting data or reporting? Is it treated as a coordination function?  Or is it an empowered function that helps execution teams and line managers decode the strategic goals and translate them into executable project goals?  Does the PMO actively manage strategic aspects like the project portfolio? Does it enable the senior management team to understand grass root performance issues?

If your answer to the last three questions is a “YES”, then your organization is well on its way to realizing the benefits of a functioning PMO.  Most organizations struggle to establish a strong and strategic PMO. Ambiguity of purpose of the PMO in an organization and lack of CXO level sponsorship of the PMO are significant reasons behind this struggle. 

As per the survey by PMO Executive Council Research, the top 3 reasons for organizations to invest in an enterprise program management office were:

Top reasons for investing in a Program Management Office.
Top reasons for investing in a Program Management Office.

More long term benefits can be reaped by making your PMO a “Strategic” function: for e.g.  Achieving strategic alignment of operations (project portfolio management), deeper and broader visibility into business performance and health, business context based governance and resource planning. Therefore organizations should look at the strategic PMO owning and facilitating the following activities:

Key Functions for a Strategic Program Management Office
Key Functions for a Strategic Program Management Office

How do organizations empower their PMO to be more effective and drive the necessary momentum in execution? The answer to that is the following high level transition process which can take up to two years to achieve a steady state of operation.  This transition is not an easy process and requires serious commitment and sponsorship from senior management. 

Transitioning the Program Management Office to a strategic role
Transitioning the Program Management Office to a strategic role

Senior leaders are continuously looking for ways to improve the efficiency and productivity of their organization, but their focus largely rests on the tangible issues, such as improving the technical aspects of product development while intangible issues such as efficiency of management operations is mostly overlooked. Transitioning the PMO into a strategic role offers immense potential benefit in terms of higher efficiency and reduced costs over a longer term of operation. The question is how many organizations are really willing to look at their PMO seriously!