Aligning the PMO to Organizational Strategy


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The Secret is in Using a Top-Down Approach

“How do you sell management on the relevance and importance of the PMO to the organization?”

This is one of the top questions pondered by the majority of PMO leaders I have met in the workshops I have presented over the years. The question puzzled me for some time because I had difficulty understanding why anyone would need to “sell” the concept of a PMO to a management that established and funded it.

After about the third workshop it dawned on me that the word “sell” was the stumbling block. The real question was actually “How do I, the head of the PMO, garner support and cooperation throughout the organization for the form and function of the PMO?” – a very good question indeed. The answer is more straight forward and simple than most think. To garner support and cooperation throughout an organization for a PMO you must help the business unit, division heads and the like to understand how the PMO will help them achieve their goals and objectives. Specifically, those goals and objectives that are directly linked to the successful execution and deployment of projects they have critical stakes in but do not have total control over.

Simply put, they need to know what is in it for them!

To do this the PMO must become aligned with the organization’s strategies, goals and objectives. This can only be done from the business plan (top) down. The savvy and successful PMO leader is one who understands the organization’s business plan and its impact across all facets of the organization. This understanding must manifest itself in the way the PMO:

• identifies project opportunities;
• vets/justifies those projects;
• prioritizes those projects;
• resources those projects;
• leverages project teams and progress;
• communicates and collaborates with stakeholders;
• monitors and tracks project benefits realization and more.

Aligning the PMO to the organization requires that all aspects of how the PMO is organized, how it functions, and the tools it uses and the governance it pursues will directly support the organization’s ability to achieve its business objectives. The process of achieving this state isn’t exactly rocket science or even all that complicated. It does however require a top-down approach and a PMO leader that thinks more like a business person than a project manager.

I can already feel the groans from readers as they are thinking either “this guy is naïve” or “this guy doesn’t have a clue”. But what if I am on to something? What if you might gain a glimmer of insight into achieving-what is for many-an elusive pursuit; aligning the PMO to organizational strategy?

First, a simple and straight forward definition of alignment is needed;
Organizational alignment is a state that is reached when an organization’s vision, mission, objectives, policies, operational processes, asset/resource management and supporting systems consistently delivers value (desired outcomes) to stakeholders (owners, customers, employees, alliances and communities) in a way that is free of contradictions and cultural anomalies.

The “resource/asset management” portion of the above definition, specifically project related, is where the PMO comes in. With that focus in mind I offer this definition of PMO alignment:
The ability of the PMO to deliver value through the management of an organization’s project assets that directly and measurably supports the current business needs of the organization while creating a framework that rapidly detects changes to those needs and recalibrates the value delivered in context to the changes in the organization’s strategic initiatives and its supporting business culture, policies, and processes.


Learn how WorkOtter can help your PMO deliver value through the management of an organization’s project assets that directly and measurably supports the current business needs of the organization delivers value to stakeholders. Request a demo today!