Agile PMOExecution Excellence

7 Things PMOs Should Know about What Makes Digital Projects Different

For most businesses, going digital is the current strategic imperative. That means digital projects and initiatives are becoming a core area of focus for PMOs in turn, but digital projects come with some nuance of which you should be aware. In an article for InformationWeek, CEB’s (now Gartner’s) Matt McWha and Veena Variyam highlight seven things that make digital projects different:

  1. Demand for greater speed
  2. Uncertain financial returns
  3. Greater business ownership of project management
  4. Coordination with non-digital demand and governance processes
  5. Funding flexibility
  6. A premium on project manager’s entrepreneurial skills
  7. An increasing focus on products over projects

The Digital Difference

According to the authors, 86 percent of barriers to project speed that PMO leaders encounter fall into the categories of “sponsor-driven decision delays, subject matter expertise bottlenecks and a lack of clarity that speed should be a priority for project teams.” These are all areas that must be addressed with more scrutiny then, if the PMO is to move at the speed that agile development teams desire.

Another thing to remember is that identifying financial value in a digital project will not always be a straightforward process. By its nature, digital experimentation will have wins and misses, so the authors say it is important to allow for looser definitions of “value” when judging the merits of potential investments. It is important to be flexible with funding in general, in that the old models of budgeting are falling apart in the face of increasing demands of agility. Just look at how businesses are gradually refocusing processes to center on products themselves, as opposed to the projects producing them. This refocus makes the value stream king, and it needs a funding process that can keep up.

A majority of IT projects are now run by business partners or contractors, meaning the relationship between IT and the business is getting closer all the time. Digital projects should serve to make these relationships tighter still. Project managers with an entrepreneurial mindset will be able to help these relationships along. With their strategic eye and urge to drive partnerships, they can perform many roles for the business, including become a scrum master or coordinate multiple agile teams.

Finally, about coordination with non-digital demand and governance processes, the authors say this:

Most companies will operate in a multi-methodology environment for the foreseeable future. That means IT needs to find a way to coordinate work being done in multiple ways (e.g., Waterfall, Scrum, XP) that have varying planning and delivery horizons. This requires PMOs to dramatically improve their approaches to surfacing, documenting and resolving interdependencies. In addition project management teams must also overcome challenges in coordinating with governance partners (e.g., Audit, Finance, and Information Risk), whose processes … often aren’t flexible enough to easily accommodate digital work.

You can view the original article here:

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