PMOs: You’re Either With Them….Or Against Them

It’s an oft repeated joke about PMOs that the difference between “policy” and “police” is only one letter.  (The other joke being that PMO’s are like potato chips; you can’t have just one.)  Preparing for the webinar we delivered this week on annual planning caused me to reflect on this statement.  Specifically, what is the role of the PMO in a responsive Mode 2 method of annual planning?

We defined this responsive mode of annual planning as having three main characteristics:

  • Segmented Portfolios
  • Program Based Allocations
  • Frequent Rebalancing


It’s basically moving from a model where annual planning is an exercise in work authorization to where it becomes an exercise in work allocation.  Goals are defined as well as key metrics and KPIs.  It’s then up to the program and asset managers to best define how to get to those goals.

What is the PMO’s role in this?  Once we defer the goals to a specific program manager, the PMO’s job is to support the program manager to achieve these goals.  The fundamental relationship of the PMO to the organization has now shifted.  Instead of being a roadblock in the name of process compliance and risk mitigation, the PMO takes on the role of a support office, providing the analytics, tools, and know how to assist program managers in achieving their goals.

This is the fundamental realignment required to support a responsive annual planning model.

PMOs: You’re Either With Them….Or Against Them

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