Empower the PMO

By | May 4, 2021

Empower the PMO

As new technologies are joined with existing and operators digitize their businesses and services, the number of IT and network projects continues to soar. Whether deploying in the cloud, on-premises or subscribing to a service there is a need to manage the implementation and – most importantly – the integration projects that enable all of this diverse tech to work together.

A 2020 survey of 100 operators by ICT Intuition, LLC found that 75% identified system interoperability and integration as one of the biggest challenges to delivering digital services. Program Management Offices (PMOs) have been around for decades but over time have become marginalized to the point where project and program managers are merely keeping track of schedules and staff. Yet the greatest advantage of a well-structured PMO is the ability to get the integration right.

Integration is happening from the core of the network to the applications on a device and it is often the failure of that integration that costs operators time, money and reputation. The PMO is in a position to see across the business and ensure that each integration effort fits with the others and is consistent with corporate standards and strategies. To do that, a PMO needs more than IT. It needs a stable of experienced and qualified business analysts (BAs) that understand every aspect of the business and the systems in use.

Own the Integration

Since integration projects often involve multiple systems, IT staff and business units; responsibility for the success of those projects falls to the PMO. And the PMO needs to keep track of more than schedule and resources. Doing that requires:

  • Structure – There needs to be a manager, BAs and IT staff that report to and are directed by the PMO for every internal development, procurement or integration project. Staff can rotate or be matrixed depending on need and project size. However, when staff is working on one of these projects, that is their job. The project isn’t sharing time with daily operational or support duties. Too many times projects get added to existing duties and as a result neither gets the proper attention.
  • Teamwork – The analysts in the PMO should come from the business units so they can accurately define processes and understand business problems. An IT counterpart can then help translate business requirements into systems requirements and ensure that corporate standards are maintained. Once the requirements are done, BAs ensure that test procedures and outcomes are accurately defined and executed.
  • Commitment – The business must commit to the PMO structure and include them in budget, program and project approvals. The PMO is uniquely qualified to outline the business case for new or updated solutions. Likewise, the PMO will ensure that interoperability as well as support and operational requirements are included in system specifications. The PMO takes a business-wide view of systems and as a result can ensure a smooth transition to new technologies.
  • Process – Every solution implements a process and the PMO needs to own the processes. Digital solutions are more than automation of manual workflow. Implementing digital solutions requires a change in business processes because of the capabilities of the technology. Understanding how systems influence the process while ensuring that the right process is being implemented becomes a major challenge for operators trying to “get it right”.
  • Engagement – The digitization of business processes and the accurate execution of those processes by integrated systems is an iterative exercise. It requires the PMO to engage with the business at every level and accurately translate business needs to digital technology solutions. That’s different than mapping automated workflow, it involves understanding necessary functionality and defining the process and technology that delivers the greatest benefit.

As operators transition to digital service providers, there is so much more that a PMO can and needs to do. In addition to defining optimal processes and systems requirements; a PMO should be setting corporate standards for data models, data management, application program interfaces (APIs), software development, testing, trials and procurement. It’s time to empower the PMO.