Portfolio Agility and the PMO

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Effective flow of information and knowledge offers better decision-making at the micro level (operations) and at the macro level (strategy).

Our recent paper on “Portfolio Agility” touches on a point I find very insightful. Both ends of the business – the strategy setting function that defines the enterprise’s direction and goals, as well as the operational execution function that is charged with taking the enterprise through said direction and achieving said goals – are dependent on one another to access the right knowledge in order to make the right decisions. This knowledge is a critical yet non-trivial component of organizational agility.

To boil it down, the discussion on business and portfolio agility implies that managing the PMOs and EPMOs of the organization to properly handle and channel the right knowledge is a key element for successful execution of the organization’s strategy. And in this area we, management consultants, can bring great value to our clients.

The need for an effective, two-way flow of information is essential to the maintenance and sustenance of the business. Understanding the strategic moves of industry leaders is important. Assessing the market based on Porter’s five forces (competitors, new entrants, new substitutions, buyers and suppliers) is essential. Yet the critical knowledge that helps create and capitalize on the enterprise’s competitive advantage gets limited attention. For that reason, executives must pay more attention to facts from within the organization itself – internal knowledge and insights. They must be able to analyze, visualize and understand information relevant to the internal operations of the enterprise.

Even when this knowledge is captured and used to set the right strategy, the work needed to ensure proper communication is not done yet. The organization must focus on translating the strategy into knowledge that can be consumed by the operations function. Executives must clarify the intent of the strategist to allow for agility at the operational level, enabling work to occur faster and reach higher quality and accuracy in execution.

This effective flow of information and knowledge in both directions offers better decision-making at the micro level (operations) and at the macro level (strategy). The EPMO, which lies at the cross roads of this knowledge exchange, can offer measurements and analysis as well as data visualization for gaining strategic insights and predictions. It also can disseminate a clearly communicated strategy to all of the operations functions so that they know how to change performance or direction, run the right projects, and finally, align with and fully support the strategy.