Organizational structure as a project and program success enabler/disabler

by Mustafa Hafızoglu

This article explains organizational structure as a project and program success enabler/disabler. At the beginning of May 2019, I organized the first Project Management Offices (PMO) Summit in Istanbul, Turkey. Over 25 PMOs shared and discussed their unique structures, challenges, expectations, solutions, and the trends for future PMOs. The three important results of this summit were

We need to:

  • Adapt to change,
  • Focus on people,
  • Gain the support of top management and clearly define the role and structure of PMO within the organization.

Projects and programs are the main enablers of company strategies. If a company would like to reach its vision, projects, and programs to provide the crucial execution mechanisms. The senior executives understanding of the importance of project and program management to realize the strategic objectives carry their company to success. Also, focusing on the implementation of the Project/Program Management Office is the key to creating a successful project/program delivery environment.

The PMO leaders shared their PMO structures within their organizations in this summit. Each had different roles and responsibilities with different levels of power within the organization. The opening keynote speaker of the summit Saadi Adra, Ph.D., presented ten structures of organizational excellence. He assesses the PMO structures by using two dimensions: directing vs. controlling & transformative vs. sustaining. A directing PMO is more on a strategic level and named as Strategic PMO, whereas controlling PMO works as a project management control office. Transformative PMOs are called an Innovation Management Office or Knowledge Management Office or Transformational Program Management Office whereas a sustaining PMO is named as Departmental PMO.

Organizational structure as a project and program success enabler/disabler


Why is it important to establish a PMO? There may be many reasons for this establishment, but the top one is the need to create a project/program supporting environment. With the right PMO structure in the organizations, the success of the projects and programs could be increased.

The organizations which are flexible enough to adapt to change occurring in the market can survive in the future. However, the ability to see the need to change in the strategy is not sufficient. The organization’s ability to quickly execute this change is needed. Hence a PMO will also be needed to manage change in the execution level.

Although Program and Project Managers are seen as having the highest responsibility for the success of the programs and projects, senior executives and sponsors are responsible for creating the right supporting structure to achieve success.

Saadi Adra presented the top five reasons for the failure of the projects as:

  1. Organizational fear, lack of cooperation, or buy-in
  2. Inadequate senior management commitment and involvement
  3. No plans, no methodology
  4. Inadequate budget, insufficient resources
  5. Attempts to change too much at once didn’t prioritize

At the end of the day ask yourself this question, “Who is accountable for these failures, project managers or Executive Director?” Your answer to this question will show you and your organization’s project management maturity.


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