You've likely heard the adage 'change is the one thing you can always count on,' and this especially rings true in the business world. Regardless of the industry, companies will continue to be affected by different changes due to global competition, new legislation, or other factors. These changes and the uncertainty surrounding them will make effective Project Portfolio Management (PPM) increasingly difficult in the years ahead.
It is because of these uncertainties that the global demand for PPM is expected to grow by USD 1.6 billion by 2024. The good news is that when it comes to running your business, Project Management Offices (PMOs) are made up of an elite group of PPM professionals who are uniquely skilled at helping companies navigate the rough seas of change successfully.
What changes are anticipated in the coming years?
We had a quick chat with six PPM experts to find out what changes they see on the horizon within their industries and the things they think PMOs will need to address to get ahead of each of the challenges.
Top 6 things that will change in PPM
These six things topped the list of PPM-based changes that your business is likely to see in the next year and beyond:
- A shift from the traditional PMO to a centralized Enterprise PMO (EPMO).
- An increase in the adoption of Agile or Hybrid methodologies.
- An increase in digital transformation through technological advancement.
- Leveraging existing or identifying new internal and external talent to improve communication, collaboration, and build strategic relationships.
- The push towards true value realization and goal-based decision-making.
- The need for more seamless change management integration.
Now that we’ve spoiled the surprise, let’s go in-depth into each insight from the six experts.
1. Strategically shifting from the traditional PMO to a centralized enterprise PMO
As companies still struggle with siloed projects that don’t necessarily align with company-wide goals, the allocation and effective use of resources and funding continue to cause unnecessary strain. Jason Davis works in the industrial manufacturing sector as the VP, IT PMO and IT Transformation for Johnson Controls . He said companies will need to take more of an enterprise view of their investment portfolio, not simply individual department or business unit views. An enterprise view will become exceptionally important when it comes to financial capital planning and deciding where to prioritize investments based not only on potential return but also on track record of execution. “Companies should consider setting up an enterprise board to jointly assess projects from a capital planning and overall enterprise perspective," he added.
Is this enough to help your company achieve the PPM success it envisions? It’s an essential step in the right direction, although Davis adds that a shift in the delivery model and the PMO structures is necessary to support digital and Agile transformation. While standards and process centers of excellence will need centralized definition and structure, self-directed teams and the distributed nature of work will force a different way of operating. Companies will need to address what it means to their overall operating model. They’ll also need to find people with the right skillsets for a distributed work model, capable of wearing an enterprise hat, and able to effectively deal with the associated challenges.
The Executive Director of Global Products Engineering Operations for Johnson Controls, Maribeth Achterberg, said another requirement will be the need to provide full portfolio transparency whenever possible, combined with the ability to become more forward-looking.
2. Increased adoption of Agile or hybrid methodologies
Project delivery methods have always been a hot topic for companies as they look for optimal ways to get their products or services to market faster while keeping quality standards high. Andrew Roth, the Director of Benco Dental’s Center of Excellence, said that within the dental distribution industry, value differentiation will be critical – and this can be read across to many other industries and sectors. Companies must be able to identify what’s of value to practices (their clients) and introduce new services that practices may not be aware of, at a faster rate to stay competitive and relevant. To do this, there is a need to adopt Agile practices and to develop teams with an Agile or hybrid perspective. But Agile adoption won’t look the same for every company: it will vary among industries and between companies.
What will this look like in large enterprises? Davis says that there will be a continued trend towards Agile adoption. He adds that while the pace and extent of adoption will depend on different company maturity levels, there will be a continued trend towards Agile, even within larger industrial companies where the need to operate differently is evident. Johnson Controls continues in their Agile transformation, re-defining how teams and individuals work. As a key part of this Agile transformation, companies will need to shift from a project to a product-based funding model, which can be a significant challenge.
As a Salesforce consulting and application development firm, Traction on Demand also understands the need for Agile. Its PMO Director, Todd Pappas, said companies that haven’t done so already, will need to explore alternative methods of project delivery, like Agile and/or Hybrid, which can be more adaptable to what’s needed. In addition to shifting methodologies, increasing the value of the PMO will need to be based on the ‘people’ dimension. This means finding the best people that have the skills and mindset to move through this changing landscape.
Staci Cross who heads up Carnival Cruise Line’s Strategic Transformation Office added that in a capital intensive industry like Carnival, their efforts in leveraging Agile practices are essential, combined with increased cloud-based technology adoption and cross-team collaboration, this will help them achieve their PPM goals.
3. An increase in digital transformation through technological advancement
Advancements in technology continue to put pressure on companies to keep pace with their competitors in the ongoing race for ultimate efficiency. Cross explained that their role in the cruise line industry will continue to be supporting their business priorities of improving the guest experience, increasing revenue and delivering on sustainability and environmental goals.
When it comes to technology, Cross explained, “the guest’s journey starts before embarkation and extends past debarkation." This means there will be continued demand for apps to engage the guests before and after the cruise. While on the cruise, Cross said their guests want "better connectivity so they can communicate with work and family back home." Having access to their mobile devices helps to enhance their experience while on the cruise. Carnival continues to improve connectivity and offer more apps to enrich each guest’s experience while they are on the ship, in their ports, and at destinations.
Achterberg explained that PPM is vital for growth in our industry with a focus on technology, such as AI, IoT and VR, as well as becoming more software development dependent and less manufacturing focused. To be successful in this quest means determining what will best meet the customer’s needs and where to move the needle to optimize value and understanding. She also believes that the use of predictive analytics and having access to real-time reporting is a key component for PPM success: this is needed to ensure efficiency and swift reaction to changes. “Working optimally for the organization in light of shifting technology is vital to success,” commented Achterberg.
Other valuable pieces of the puzzle include fully understanding and appreciating the value of data analytics, said Roth. He argued that automation and process improvements are vital to serve customers better and provide new services, like practice coaching. Often, companies may not even realize some services exist, he says. Another thing that Roth sees as essential? A PMO’s continued advancements around AI to build better models while aligning with core technologies, which can help with bringing accelerated change and improve project success by better anticipating project risks. This can aid struggling practices to become and stay more interesting and valuable to their clients, he explained.
4. Leveraging the existing and new internal and external talent
As a global company, Carnival also places great emphasis on cross-team communication and collaboration. Another top priority for the Strategic Transformation Office will be focusing its efforts on working closely with its business partners to better understand their priorities and develop the products they desire most. “In IT, we have many team members who have been with the company for a long time,” explained Cross. She believes that leveraging their team's business expertise and long-standing relationships within Carnival is another key to success.
Davis, of Johnson Controls, told us that companies need to find people with the right skillsets for a distributed work model: that is, people who are capable of wearing an enterprise hat and able to deal effectively with the associated challenges.
5. The push toward true value realization and goal-based decision-making
When it comes to PPM effectiveness, Pappas believes that more frequently, success will be measured by a PMO’s ability to provide more value and deliver logistically. Companies will be challenged to figure out ways to define their target or ‘north star’ better. Pappas said PMOs should ask themselves questions like, “How do we know we’re there?” and “Will the customer be satisfied?”
According to Achterberg, companies also need to perfect developing a full understanding of all investments and the realization of value. It’s in doing this that companies can effectively identify how to make better decisions and where to shift their capital to optimize investment dollars.
In terms of true value realization, repositioning is key, said Matt Scheuing, CEO of Changepoint. He said Changepoint has taken a step back to think about how the company was positioned to refocus on standing for more than just their products. Addressing Changepoint's challenges meant seeking first to understand its customers more, then sharpening its solutions to solve their customers’ problems in a consultative manner. The result of this repositioning meant that Changepoint was able to deliver a successful refresh of its entire suite of products. Today, Changepoint is better positioned to help their customers understand and leverage all of the capabilities of its suite of products, rather than just a single door to technology.
Pappas also explained that it’s important to place more focus on the end goal and less on the journey. PPM is “becoming a way of thinking rather than a way of doing,” he said. Scheuing further added that customer intimacy is paramount: knowing your customer’s desired outcome and how their goals can be met is important. He encourages all of his teams to remain customer outcome-focused: “Changepoint is people helping you achieve a better outcome, not just getting access to a tool,” Scheuing said.
6. The need for more seamless change management integration
Change management practices have been around in the business world since the early 1990s, but their value as an integral component in PPM is still not fully understood. Change management may be a barrier for some companies. Keeping up with the pace of internal and external changes and more frequent iterations will continue to pose a challenge for companies, explained Scheuing.
Roth concurred with this, saying that, for example, in the dental distribution industry, dentists and their clients need to become more comfortable with the changes happening across the industry. To address changes, it’s going to become increasingly necessary for PPM teams to provide change management guidance, better processes, and coaching for customers, he explained.
“Getting people more engaged in change management will become a ‘must-have’,'' Pappas said. Companies need to “stop thinking of change management as an individual role,” and put much more focus on incorporating change management into everything. Change management should be more seamless and second nature – almost invisible.
While the background of the six experts we interviewed may differ and the changes they mentioned aren’t all industry-specific or necessarily new, there's a significant consensus. Each of these experts offered invaluable insights into the high demand for value-driven PPM services and solutions in the future. The key to being prepared for change lies in effectively repositioning your company by establishing an enterprise-wide PMO, advancing digital transformation strategies, and effectively leveraging your talent. By taking advantage of expert advice and resources, your company can focus its efforts on what matters most to your customers and position your business for long-term success.
Changepoint transforms project, engagement and application portfolios with an adaptable, intuitive and intelligent platform that is configurable for an agile business. Changepoint’s built-for-purpose portfolio management solutions are designed for strategic transformation teams, project management offices, services organizations, and IT leaders. Hundreds of global customers partner with them to make informed and innovative business decisions, enable transformation, maximize profit, enforce visibility, and align outcomes to strategy. Achieve better business outcomes at www.changepoint.com.
Moira Alexander, PMP, I.S.P., ITCP/IP3P, is a recognized project management influencer, thought leader, a regular correspondent for PMI’s Projectified podcast, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of PMWorld 360 Magazine, Founder of Lead-Her-Ship Group, and author of “LEAD or LAG: Linking Strategic Project Management & Thought Leadership”. Moira has over 25 years of experience in business (IS&T) and project management for small to large businesses in the US and Canada and has been quoted in various publications including Forbes. She writes thought leadership content for top-tier publications and business blogs and oversees or writes sponsored content and software reviews on PMWorld 360 Magazine.