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The Incredible Shrinking Project Management Office

Business is a constantly evolving world but tends to rely on traditional and occasionally stagnant models. This is especially true in the case of the project management office. According to Matthew McWha, the traditional values of project management offices are under pressure in the areas of:

  • Project Delivery
  • Performance Measurement
  • Portfolio Management
  • Project Manager Development

Balancing speed with value is crucial to managing a successful project. As lines of communication and interaction speed up, so must business. McWha argues that project delivery shows signs of adjusting for new pacing demands: We’ve seen a trend toward project managers moving into lines of business or functions to allow for greater responsiveness and delivery speed. We’ve also seen an increase in part-time project managers — employees who are doing project management work as a small portion of their jobs. Both of these trends mean that the project management office is overseeing less and less actual execution work. There is also a noticeable change occurring in business partner value expectations because of this increasing demand for speed of delivery. Old tried and true metrics are suddenly out of date, and project management offices are having trouble adapting. This leads to McWha’s listed change in performance measurement. Furthermore, the changing structure of project demands is changing the way portfolios are managed. This makes sense because portfolio management should change to match the changes seen in funding and prioritization. Perhaps the biggest change we are seeing is the changing role of the project manager. Instead of building the entrepreneurial skills of one single project manager, we are relying on many part-time project managers. This leads to a drop in effectiveness with traditional training. Remember, the times surely are changing, but this is not necessarily a negative thing. Although adjusting for speed demands and revamping traditional training may seem daunting, it is good to know that slow and steady changes will allow your projects and your organization as a whole to maintain relevance in the long run.

About Anne Grybowski

Anne is a former staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success, with a degree in Media Studies from Penn State University.

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