Should Your PMO Become a VMO? We think so.

In the past, you had too many projects slip on delivery. Your risks were going unhandled or unnoticed. Cost overruns kept popping up, and you faced quality and compliance issues as well as inconsistent reporting.  So, to get these problems under control, you created a Project or Program Management Office (PMO).


While things got better, that improvement came at a cost. You had to invest in staff, tools, and training.  Plus, the new PMO added a layer of bureaucracy through additional oversight, planning, monitoring, and relay.  By creating a PMO, you, essentially, added time and indirection via more handoffs, reporting, and additional effort without creating a new level of productive outcome.

Is the PMO too Rigid to Innovate and Adapt?

In addition to complexity and cost, the PMO added more “determinism” to your process. Now, the PMO requires formal work breakdown structures, budget rules, and formal execution methodologies. There are multiple feedback loops, numerous stage gates, and the focus is on ensuring compliance with ‘The Plan’.

The untoward effect? Your change feedback loops are weighted more toward controlling risk by avoiding any potentially regrettable change. Yet, adaptability and flexibility are key to staying competitive and keep up with the pace of change.

What is a COO or a PMO leader to do?

Do you loosen up the PMO and let anarchy reign?  Or, do you adopt a new approach to your systems development journey?

Adopting a New PMO Mindset & Focus

We believe that a war of methodologies serves no one and causes confusion. Instead of approaching program and project management with a binary choice, we suggest a shift in mindset and approach:

  1. Acknowledge the emergent nature of your systems work.
  2. Focus on outcomes and achieving a sustainable flow of value. 
  3. Work backwards and reshape your PMO so it can provide the coordination, support, and guardrails that are still needed and, yet, be flexible enough to facilitate the work of large-scale efforts.

Rebrand Your PMO to Value Management Office

With your new mindset and focus, consider a repackaging of your PMO into a VMO — Value Management Office. It’s gaining traction in the industry. 

Now, your VMO is about a servant-leader organization that facilitates competence and information flow. These are the key ingredients that enable decision making, adaptability, and sustainable value delivery in the face of emergent solutions and a volatile, uncertain, changing, and ambiguous (VUCA) world.

Now, your VMO is about a servant-leader organization that facilitates competence and information flow. These are the key ingredients that enable decision making, adaptability, and sustainable value delivery in the face of emergent solutions and a volatile, uncertain, changing, and uncertain (VUCA) world.

Make the Shift from PMO to Value Management Office

Make these three shifts to help your PMO evolve and deal with the emergent nature of systems development:

Move from Project to Product

  • Identify a product area that already has its budget, projects, teams. Choose one that is operating under a “traditional” PMO structure that can be a good test for adopting a product focus.
    • From a transition perspective, this allows you to think from a ‘vertical slice’ rather than a ‘horizontal layer.’
    • Since implementing or deploying new processes is often done by implementing one aspect of a process across the entire organization or enterprise (i.e., the horizontal layer), focusing on the vertical slice lets you implement and experiment with the end-to-end process from the strategic level down to the final operational level.
  • Once you have identified the product area, clearly understand the value that product area needs to deliver.
    • Invite that team to embrace the VMO model as an experiment. 
    • Strive for shared success because it spreads more rapidly and sustainably than enforced change.  
  • Map your value stream. 
    • It’s the combination of people, systems, processes, and other assets and policies involved in the value chain from concept to cash — from initial customer request to the delivered service or product. 
    • Begin the shift from funding projects to funding value streams with fixed, cross-functional teams. 

Establish feedback grounded in objective results on cadence

  • Move away from document-based reporting to demonstrated increments of results.
    • Utilize light-weight, continuously-visible progress tracking and live collaboration across critical stakeholders for rapid decision making.
  • While traditional PMOs gather large amounts of data, which are viewed as necessary in developing a comprehensive and detailed status view, in reality, it complicated the reporting process and delayed quick decisions.
    • Set a regular cadence and rely on “just enough” information to make quick decisions without overloading with extraneous details.

Lead Rather Than Control

  • Servant leaders facilitate faster progress by providing their team with training, support, and a supportive environment. 
  • This doesn’t mean throwing compliance or competence out the window, both are still important. 
  • Give them the best tools and encourage team participation to build competence and knowledge-sharing while ensuring quality is ‘built in.’
  • Let the team own the outcome.

Produce Consistent Customer Value through Your PMO or VMO

If your goal is to produce sustainable and high throughput of customer value, your program and project teams will need to become more adaptable alongside greater quality output.  Our Operational Excellence service offers a team of passionate experts who help customers achieve sustainably better outcomes and growth across their products, programs, and projects.

Bob Limegrover
Robert Limegrover
Director of Delivery Excellence

Robert Limegrover, Director of Delivery Excellence, joined SDLC Partners in February 2006. Bob is responsible for supporting and ensuring a differentiated client experience through consistent and high-quality delivery of the firm’s services. In his role, Bob ensures that SDLC is delivering quality proposals and engagements and that the firm captures knowledge from our successful engagements to be reused for future client needs.

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