A Brief Look at the PMO of the Future

4 minute read

Upland Admin

Eric J. Feldman

Do you know what the future holds in regards to digital transformation? Do you know how the PMO of the Future will help create new value streams and digital lines of business?

Well, we may not be able to predict the future, but we can gain some insight to upcoming key trends, especially with a broad subject such Project Portfolio Management. And it does not matter if a PMO to you is a “project management office” or a “program management office.”

Here is an example. Gartner predicts that “agile PPM will replace project management as the dominant approach for effective enterprise change and outcomes[i]” by 2023. Their vision illustrates that agile work practices will help deliver faster results and aid in the transition from project to product management. In other words, leveraging agile product development practices to change how projects are delivered. This is the concept of “digital products” as a driver of new value streams.

PMO of the Future

So how does this impact your project management office or PMO?

In simple terms, it means your PMO must change from a project support function to a business leadership role with accountability for organizational and digital transformation.

So, what are some of the ways the PMO of the future will change your organization?

Drive Organizational Transformation

The PMO of the Future will be more responsible for strategic direction and execution, rather than a manager of individual projects. Their value to the organization will be based on delivering on organizational goals and objectives in many areas including:

  • Portfolio planning – the project mix
  • Project Prioritization – allocate project budgets across organizational needs
  • Resilience planning – minimize productivity impacts and avoid disruptions
  • Capacity planning – have the right number of people with the right skills in the right places at the right times

The Voice and Face of the Organization

The evolution of project management to a more business-focused discipline is more than just ensuring that project managers understand the business. They need to shift from being focused on individual deliverables to the focus on delivering the business benefits that their project’s themselves are intended for.

The PMO of the future will play an active role in aligning projects to the organization’s objectives as a key participant in the annual planning process. As a result, the Future PMO will be expected to be the face and voice of the organization when it comes to strategy execution.

Build the Right Skills

The important concept here is to realize that the PMO must be a business function and not a project function. Does your PMO have a business plan? Think of the other departments in your organization. Do they begin the year without a defined plan with goals and KPIs?

Historically, PMOs were led by project managers, but the PMO of the future will need a business leader with the skills and experience to understand and deliver on the organization’s goals and objectives. The PMO lead must also have the ability to build relationships across the business and can build trust across all levels. Finally, the PMO needs to be able to own the portfolio from idea generation through benefits realization.

Cultural Changes

We live in a time of dynamic markets that affects all aspects of an organization. Sometimes, the changes that are most challenging are cultural shifts, and the role of the PMO is not immune. Many organizations have relied on departmental project management and the shift to an Enterprise PMO can be met with some resistance.

As a result, many organizations have created a new “CPO” role – Chief Project Officer or Chief Portfolio Officer – as a peer to other “C-Level” roles. The goal is to create an environment and culture for long term growth with a peer to other major business functions such as sales, finance, and IT.

What does your PMO of the future look like?



[i] Gartner Blog. Smarter with Gartner. “Gartner Predicts 3 Digital Business Impacts on PPM.” March 12, 2019. https://blogs.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/gartner-predicts-3-digital-business-impacts-on-ppm/

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