Building more agile project management offices

Delivering business outcomes with continuously changing IT portfolios requires project managers to have a more entrepreneurial skill set.

Shutterstock image (by Sfio Cracho): businessman looking at the city.

(Image: Sfio Cracho / Shutterstock)

While completing projects on time and on budget is a priority for federal project management offices (PMOs), business partner satisfaction often suffers. In fact, CEB research found that, in both the public and private sectors, 70 percent of projects are delivered according to the original budget and deadline, but only 38 percent meet stakeholders’ expectations.

Furthermore, our research determined that most PMOs have a significant percentage of portfolio value that is at risk due to troubled projects. In addition, a Government Accountability Office audit determined that federal CIO risk ratings are often inconsistent with the actual risk profiles of their projects, suggesting that many “low-risk” federal projects are misclassified.

The key to overcoming those challenges lies with project managers (PMs); their performance is the largest driver of achieving business outcomes. However, PMOs have historically been staffed with people who are overly process-oriented. Such PMs struggle to meet the pressures of a more dynamic portfolio of projects, which include more diverse project types and increased stakeholder scrutiny.

Today’s demands require moving from a workforce that is focused strictly on meeting requirements to one with a more entrepreneurial orientation. Such PMs possess a willingness to forge partnerships and approach scope change as an opportunity to deliver greater value. They also possess key entrepreneurial skills in the areas of stakeholder partnership, judgment, risk management and team leadership. Those are precisely the types of skills needed to facilitate government’s increasing adoption of agile development methods.

The rewards for shifting to an entrepreneurial PM workforce are significant. The most effective entrepreneurial PMs are nearly 1.5 times more successful at delivering business outcomes than the average PM. However, our research indicates that fewer than 30 percent of PMs have that entrepreneurial skill set.

Process-oriented project managers struggle to meet the pressures of a more dynamic portfolio of projects.

Although building such a workforce is not easy, there are strategies agencies can use that don’t break the bank and don’t require clearing their existing PM benches:

* Structure job descriptions to attract better candidates. PM job descriptions that focus on technical skills and certifications discourage candidates with entrepreneurial skills from applying. Progressive organizations write job descriptions that depict leadership opportunities with a broad scope and a strategic focus.

* Use on-the-job learning to build skills. CEB research shows that on-the-job learning is three times more effective in boosting performance than formal training programs. Therefore, 70 percent of PM development efforts should be geared toward experiential learning, such as making difficult decisions or working with people who have competing views.

* Develop criteria for assessing entrepreneurial performance management. Aligning PM performance to specific guideposts that reflect entrepreneurial skills and business outcomes helps encourage PMs to develop those skills. For instance, one of our clients sought input from the PMO community in identifying specific behaviors related to a PM’s ability to influence others. The feedback included ensuring fewer vocal stakeholder opinions were considered and setting and defending clear boundaries for project roles and responsibilities.

* Define a PM career path. At many organizations, unclear role progression stifles the ambition of talented PMs, who are forced to seek opportunities elsewhere inside (or outside) the agency. Developing a clear pathway for advancement within the PM space will help attract and retain talented professionals.

The demand for strong business outcomes is placing new and challenging conditions on federal PMOs. However, creating an environment that encourages and rewards entrepreneurial behavior will result in more effective PMs. By equipping the PM workforce with the skills to be agile learners, capable problem-solvers and masters of process proficiency, the PMO will be more responsive to those mounting pressures.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.