The future-focused PMO

Each week, we will update you on the latest trends in the PMO workspace, helping you and your organisation to prepare for the future.


So many “offices” so little time.


The (Enterprise) Project Management Office, Programme Management Office, Portfolio Management Office, Strategic Project Management Office, Strategy Realization Office, (Digital) Transformation Office, Value Management Office, and Change Management Office.

One thing they all have in common (aside from the word office) is that no matter your flavour of management office, they are currently or about to go through significant levels of disruption, and the spotlight is on them like never before.

Here at The Project Foundry, we’ve designed our XMO framework to adapt to our clients’ needs. We operate a straightforward 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of what is required will be the same for every management office. The final twenty percent is what we tailor to the client’s needs, usually in the form of governance and internal branding/positioning of the management office.

It all comes down to execution — delivering quantifiable, value-driven outcomes. No matter the type of management office, here are our top five trends we see impacting over the next 12 months.


The XMO is (usually) at the heart of digital transformation initiatives within an organisation. Yet how many of these management offices can say they are truly digital? How can we expect our organisations to follow or support our digital transformation efforts if the management office still has antiquated processes, outdated documentation, and data sitting in multiple disconnected silos? We can’t.

Combine this with greater levels of change, critical skills shortages, and the expectations of the business to drive clear value-based outcomes faster. The XMO will need to transform itself before it can ask others to do the same.

We expect to see the majority of PMOs implement or expand their use of the applicable PPM technology. This is often the only step many XMOs take combined with enterprise content management systems for traditional documentation.

XMOs must focus on capturing and digitising their processes as a precursor and eliminating data silos as part of their data strategy. This will assist in removing the many cottage industries that revolve around reporting and provide insights to business executives.

Automation or RPA of low-value, mundane tasks is still in its infancy within the XMO. Still, we expect to see more discussion around leveraging Microsoft Power Platform, UiPath, and BluePrisim as examples.

XMO within organisations that do not currently possess an RPA strategy or toolset will struggle as this capability is not yet natively available in most PPM technology tools.

XMOs must be more aware of their digital and traditional PMO capability and maturity models. Connecting systems and eliminating data silos (excel, access, etc.) will allow the limited resources to focus on higher-value tasks.

– Ionology

One way or another, XMO will be at the centre of Agile Transformation, or Agile Beyond IT, as we often refer to it now. It has the potential to be a strategic enabler of new delivery models or a blocker to progress, beholden to traditional ways of working and unable or unwilling to adapt to Agile Beyond IT. Or perhaps it will flounder somewhere in between, overwhelmed by the dramatic changes this type of transformation can bring.

As organisations continue to deliver large enterprise projects while also moving to a more agile business and delivery environment – the XMO’s influence will be vital in determining the appropriate models employed and how multiple portfolios are structured and integrated.

Effective Agile Transformation requires discipline and deep knowledge of new working methods and the organisation itself. The wider organisation often underestimates this need. The XMO is perfectly positioned to help the organisation achieve the optimal blend of methods, tools, skills, people, and processes for each initiative. It can do this in a way that supports the business with a clear line of sight on the entire demand and capacity plans that allow them to keep their BAU and project collaborations.

The key themes will be balance, practice, piloting, and cooperation.



XMO leaders will need to balance competing or conflicting ways of managing work and resource requirements while trying to measure and report on value creation in ways they have not done so in the past.


…makes perfect, as the saying goes. It will take time, feedback loops, and one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal – the retrospective to get new ways of delivering fine-tuned.


These will be needed to create opportunities for the team(s) to practice. Set out by identifying a specific problem or using case studies.


Agile ways of working will require a different approach to structured delivery.

What does your XMO do for the organisation? Does it focus on what it initially set out to achieve? Is this still relevant?

There is a high chance that if your XMO has not regularly revisited its charter, it is likely not aligned with the organization’s current needs.

As organisations continue to deliver large enterprise projects while also moving to a more agile business and delivery environment – the XMO’s influence will be vital in determining the appropriate models employed and how multiple portfolios are structured and integrated.

At The Project Foundry, we challenge our clients to revisit their charter on an annual basis to ensure it is still aligned with the organisation’s needs. This has never been more important. If we consider that 50% of PMOs fail in their first three years and remind ourselves of some of the critical elements that make for a successful PMO:


  • It has a clear mission statement at its foundations and is driven by realistic goals.
  • The rest of the organization perceives it as critical for meeting business goals.
  • It has transparent and open relationships throughout the organization, from executive sponsorship and stakeholder partnership to effective team management.

This is not an exhaustive list, but it all closely links to what your XMO should be doing, what success looks like, and how it is perceived. Senior stakeholders value the XMO when the core services offered are perfectly aligned with what is needed at that time.

Enter the XMO Service Catalogue.

A service catalogue comprises multiple service packages, each of which has its distinct subset of services. A clearly defined Service Catalogue gives the XMO a laser focus on its core services and what the organisation needs to do while still allowing it to be flexible and adaptable, adding a few adjustments or additions to the core services packages.

In large-scale or complex organisational structures with multiple XMOs, it also provides clear lines as to what each XMO is tasked with doing/what service it is providing. A simple but well-defined Service Catalogue should also support transparency and allow key KPIs and metrics to be defined against each package or element.

Evolution is about the PMO anticipating what changes might be coming down the line. A PMO should be able to provide options for possible solutions rather than lagging. We have discovered that several conditions are necessary to successfully transform from PMO or ePMO to SRO and achieve effective enterprise Transformation Value Management (“eTVM”).

This is sometimes referred to as servicing the car while competing in the race! In this way, setting realistic goals and achieving balance and re-balance throughout the transformation journey becomes a central theme and a critical success factor.

As such, organisations need to measure the changes and, more importantly, their impact so they know when to accelerate and back off, ramp up investment, and “hold” while they harvest returns. This is where the concept of an Enterprise Value Management platform and data-driven dashboard for investment and value management was born.

It requires the expertise and insights to know what changes to make in a project and program delivery approach, when to make them, the degree of change needed, how to manage that change and its consequences, and the appropriate order in which to deliver changes. All while ensuring value delivery throughout to your customers.

Change management was a priority, but it is now necessary. Radical disruption and crisis response are now the newer normal, and organisations must support change management with change leadership. The need to constantly reconfigure business models and strategy is now business as usual. We are living in truly unprecedented times, and the economic cataclysm of the pandemic will fade into insignificance as more complex global challenges emerge from the shadows in the years to come.

Developing a change management capability is fundamental to nurturing a workforce for the future, but many organisations are still dragging their feet. To survive and thrive in this new chaotic world order, organisations must build a capacity for change to support an execution-ready strategy, and executive teams must dig deep, leading by example. The traditional corporate culture, which has its roots in the industrial revolution, is often change-resistant, stifling creativity and problem-solving. To climb this mountain, business leaders must integrate change management with a growth mindset and a willingness to innovate into the organisation’s overall strategy.

There is a unanimous understanding that people and organisations must change, adapt, evolve and make the impossible possible. Change management is about enabling and igniting people’s passion in their everyday work while also connecting projects to the larger purpose and strategy of the organisation. Developing this virtuous circle is a genuine sustainable competitive advantage and is emerging as the holy grail for future-focused organisations.

Change management is straightforward in theory but difficult in practice. Unfortunately, many organizations hitch their wagon to a change management framework (Lewin’s, McKinsey 7-S model, Kotter’s, ADKAR, Nudge theory, Bridges or Kübler-Ross or Satir) as a silver bullet with no connection to a larger purpose. Organisations must be willing to unlearn cherished ways of working and change to a results-focused culture to change the tide.

Expect confusion and despair on your change management journey. It will require many U-turns and route recalculations to ensure the organisation is not on the road to nowhere. We suggest you do not skip or fast-track the much-needed whiteboard brainstorming sessions, eventually leading to structured conversations.

Discourage complacency, provide flexibility and encourage individuals and teams to solve problems and explore new ways of working.

Change management begins and ends with execution. A brilliant model with mediocre management rarely has a meaningful impact, and results are the only thing that matter. The organisation’s change management capability nurtures a strong understanding of purpose, and this takes root with people invested in doing their best work. Explosive growth is possible, but first, we need to dismantle the bureaucracy and adopt a willingness to change, which will, in turn, ignite our people with a sense of purpose. Change agents and rising stars are hidden in plain sight.

Phenomenal growth is possible if we courageously embrace rather than resist the acceleration of change. Change management is a great starting point to empower organizations to achieve their full potential.

Throughout the change management journey, it is imperative for leaders always to be available. Transparency, visibility, simplicity, and focus are the key ingredients for successful change management.

More pressure, more demand, bigger expectations, and a greater necessity to deliver quantifiable value to the business. All against a background of tectonic shifts in the wider economy, society, and within organisations.

The PMO has been many things over the last two decades – a cautionary tale of unfulfilled potential (with 50% of PMOs closing within their first three years in operation – Association of Project Management) and the silver bullet to delivering strategic initiatives.

If you’d like to hear more about how The Project Foundry can help you transform your PMO, book your PMO Canvas Session today.

Want to know more?

  • Are you struggling to realise the expected benefits from your PMO?
  • Is your PMO slow, or failing to deliver on needs and priorities?
  • Is there a lack of transparency in prioritisation, decision-making and reporting from your PMO?

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