Project Management Operations are evolving to meet demand, placing an emphasis on interpersonal skills in order to build a culture of change.

Over time, the triumvirate of People, Processes, and Technology (PPT) naturally adapt to respond to market driven forces. PMO services were already evolving as more and more organizations looked to affect change faster (think Agile). That continuation, coupled with the shift to remote delivery brought on by a global pandemic, have put the ‘people’ part of the PPT triad front and center through 2020 and beyond.

We apologize to Plato for borrowing his phrase about “necessity,” but the changes that 2020 has brought about in PMO operations, and hence PMaaS solutions, have been profound.  Take a look at the Project Management Institutes’ (PMI) Pulse of the Profession® 2020 report. More than half (53%) of the organizations surveyed in Pulse say that building a culture receptive to change is a top priority. This report is not advocating for implementing change for the sake of change, but rather the well-thought-out corporate sponsored change needed to stay competitive. Pulse data also shows that 70% of organizations place a high priority on creating a culture centered on delivering customer value. This type of culture and delivery change must be led by emphasizing the ‘people’ component needed to realize the goal.

53% of the organizations surveyed in PMI's Pulse of the Profession® 2020 report say that building a culture receptive to change is a top priority.

Skills, Collaboration, and Empowerment

Organizations can no longer simply brace for the changes that impact their enterprise. Instead, executive leaders need to transform their organizations to make agility, creativity, and the customer’s voice part of their corporate strategy. The 53% of organizations currently building a culture of change need to focus on the skills, collaboration, and empowerment (delegated authority) required to make that transformation. For example, project management skill sets will need to expand with a greater emphasis on interpersonal skills. PMs are leading cross functional teams with the expectation that they “self-govern, design their own objectives, and deliver independently without dependencies on other areas of the business.” Gone are the days of merely tracking scope, schedule, and resources. Collaboration concepts will also need rethinking, as collaboration within the project team will not be enough. All organization stakeholders (project teams, business, compliance, security, and operations, to name a few) need to have buy-in throughout the project lifecycle to achieve agility. And finally, the culture change needs to start from the top. Executive leaders need to be willing to set the vision and goals, selecting projects that will have the best chance of realizing the organizations strategy, while empowering these new found project teams to execute the solution.

The Importance of Teams

The organizations building a culture of change understand that change ultimately happens through projects, and building well-rounded, multidisciplinary teams to support that work is imperative to future success. We would be remiss to not mention Agile when speaking of the teams of the future. When organizations commit to an Agile way of working (again, support is required from the top down), it allows them to accelerate change and react to changing priorities almost instantly. But in order for Agile to be effective, you must have the right individuals with the right skills on these teams. According to PMI’s Pulse of the Profession® In-Depth Report Tomorrow’s Teams Today (2020), project professionals mention the top two, must-have team skills as “collaborate leadership and empathy for the voice of the customer.” Ultimately, putting the customer first, and being a collaborative and an effective listener with a focus on flexibility and innovation, will drive today’s teams (and organizations) towards a successful future and beyond.

The Impact

Pulse of the Profession*® reports that “organizations in North America waste an average of $123 million for every $1 billion spent on projects and programs due to poor project performance.” That is over 12% of budgeted project wasted on poor performance. Teams that have a clear direction, complete skill sets, and are empowered to deliver for their organization will perform enthusiastically. Plato also said, “the beginning is the most important part of the work.” Make sure you have the right people and teams in place to reduce or eliminate the impact of poor project performance.


Co-author Cate Murray