Since I first heard about project management, which was over a couple of decades ago, I know of organizations establishing project, program and portfolio offices to support their change initiatives in various ways. Many times, these functions were very bureaucratic and therefore seem by both project teams and project stakeholders just as a hurdle to project delivery. However, over the recent years, PMOs have been reinventing and adapting their operations to be effective in a more Agile environment and to clearly demonstrate the value added by their work to the organizations.
In parallel, organizations have increasingly prioritized the focus of their efforts on the realization of strategically aligned benefits over the focus on the delivery of a mere output or on the success based on the iron triangle or triple constraint (i.e. scope, time and cost) only. In the pursue to have a more agile and results oriented identity, PMOs have now been avoiding having their work being associated to things like death by bureaucracy, reporting for the sake of reporting and excessive red tape. In this scenario, the responsibility for benefits realization has been many times delegated by the business case owners to project managers, and then PMOs have been mainly supporting these project managers in their tasks.
However, based on research data, most organizations seem to be missing their opportunity to have the PMO taking on a much more valuable set of responsibilities across the benefits realization lifecycle, instead of having just a limited (and many times not effective) focus on the support to the project managers in the production of business cases and on some type of benefits tracking mainly during the project lifecycle. Whilst researchers have repeatedly found that benefits tracking and reviews across the entire benefits realization lifecycle can significantly increase the creation of value, organizationsseem to be still focusing on the approval of a business case just to release the funding to kick off the project but not caring too much about making sure that the expected benefits realization and return on the investment were actually achieved or not.
If you want to learn more about the current practices employed by PMOs in support to benefits realization and about the areas were a stronger focus could help organizations to generate more value from their investment in projects and programs, you can watch the webinar “Benefits Realization and the PMO” that was presented on October 8, 2019 an is available for subscribers at The Great IT Professional website. The webinar was presented by me and my colleague Claudio Gimenes Toledo, who is another experienced PM and PMO professional that worked with me in the analysis of the data.