Five Best Practices for the Modern IT PMO

  • Article
  • Agile Transformation


In today’s modern world, enabling technology products and services are no longer “nice-to-haves” for businesses and organizations, but essential for day-to-day operations and support. And when you’re a large organization like a federal agency, your IT product portfolio likely includes dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of IT products or services.

That’s why IT PMOs (be they project, program, or portfolio management offices) exist — to provide the strategic guidance, transparency, accountability, and insight required to ensure IT capabilities continually meet your needs, no matter how complex your environment.

Traditionally, IT PMOs prioritized delivering IT projects, programs, and portfolios by using repeatable, proven standards, procedures, and practices to improve operational efficiency. However, as digital transformations and Agile delivery continue to disrupt traditional mechanics of IT management, PMOs must go beyond this traditional “command and control” mentality.

If you want your IT organization to thrive in today’s modern world, you need a modern PMO.

What is a Modern PMO?

Rather than focusing on tactical procedures and execution, a modern PMO embraces enterprise agility and drivesorganizational transformation by helping your IT teams –

  • Align with your organization’s strategy, business goals, and strategic objectives;
  • Overcome roadblocks to agility and performance;
  • Deliver meaningful value to the organization and the highest quality IT services and products to users; and
  • Keep pace with rapidly evolving stakeholder needs and emerging technology.

How to Build a Modern PMO

As a leading PMO contractor and advisor for federal agencies such as the Department of Veterans Affairs, GovCIO has spent the last decade working with our customers to build modern, effective IT PMOs.

If you’re looking to establish and sustain a modern IT PMO that will help power mission/business success now and in the future, here are five best practices our consultants recommend implementing.

1. Create A Culture That Engages, Empowers, And Excites Staff

As with any office or organization, a PMO is only as successful as its people. You can’t achieve your strategic goals and objectives unless your staff are energized about the future together, excited about your product solutions, and feel they have a voice in the direction of your organization.

  1. Foster a positive environment where staff feel valued and supported in their professional growth.
  2. Expand opportunities for staff engagement and future planning.
  3. Move towards flatter organizational structures; this shift will empower teams and provide the autonomy needed to nurture creativity, drive productivity, and improve delivery.
  4. Increase recognition and celebrate individual and team successes.
  5. Provide future-focused professional and career development that aligns with the organization’s direction to prepare staff for future needs and emerging technologies.

2. Focus On Achieving Business Value

The IT products and services you provide should add value for your organization or what’s the point of having them? Align your IT strategy and plans with your organization’s strategy, business goals, and long-term priorities, (and adapt it as goals, priorities, and strategy evolve) to fuel successful outcomes for both the PMO and the organization.

  1. Take a holistic view of your organization, and how IT fits in, to align with overarching business and technical goals, as well as solve problems better for your users.
  2. Engage stakeholders across your organization to keep the focus on their business and mission needs, including future planning.
  3. Define successful outcomes and requirements for meeting objectives and track your progress. Set highly visible goals, so everyone knows what is going on, what needs to happen, and when.
  4. Use objectives and key results (OKRs) instead of key performance indicators (KPIs), as OKRs focus more on measuring and achieving specific outcomes.
  5. Implement tools (ideally automated ones) that track your progress and outcomes to demonstrate continued value and guide teams toward continuous improvement.

3. Use Business Intelligence and Analytics

Modern PMOs recognize decisions and actions must be supported by data. However, data alone means nothing. You must convert data into meaningful information and insights, which requires the use of business intelligence and analytics (BI&A) tools. If leveraged properly, BI&A capabilities will give you — 1) real-time reporting for faster and improved decision-making; 2) increased visibility and efficiency; 3) more effective resource and risk management; 4) reduced costs; 5) more informed predictions about the future.

  1. Determine the type of data you need to gain actionable insight and make key decisions.
  2. Identify and integrate BI&A tools, including AI/ML solutions, that will provide the data and capabilities to gain real-time insight and support your specific objectives.
  3. Use integrated BI&A tools tools and techniques to more effectively match, allocate, and schedule resources.
  4. Use integrated BI&A tools tools and techniques to gather and analyze data about processes, inefficiencies and stagnant efforts, identify bottlenecks and risks, and determine how to resolve challenges.
  5. Identify positive trends and insights that will allow you to continually improve execution and enhance your overall agility.
  6. Apply predictive analytics to better prepare for the future and replace reactive decision-making with earlier, proactive decisions.

4. Cultivate Strong Cross-Organizational Communications and Relationships

PMO staff, leadership, and your IT solutions benefit from enhanced collaboration and communication within your PMO, as well as with other PMOs, and the broader organization.

  1. Frequently communicate the overall vision, goals, and objectives to staff to breakdown siloes and allow for productive coordination across the PMO.
  2. Clearly communicate what each member of the PMO is responsible for delivering.
  3. Engage teams and stakeholders across your organization to share success stories and lessons learned, improve understanding of and applications for emerging technologies, and create efficiencies.
  4. Employ Agile tools to enhance communication and collaboration.
  5. Build strong relationships with internal and external stakeholders to help more easily gain buy-in and acceptance for technological, process, and/or procedural changes.

5. Engage with Industry

Continual industry engagement infuses fresh perspectives and ideas, and introduces, future-focused technologies, where applicable, to your PMO organization.

  1. Increase direct engagement with industry to learn about emerging technologies, hear new ideas and success stories, and remain up to date with the future of IT.
  2. Use engagement to provide feedback, share unique mission/business challenges, and shape industry solution development to meet future organizational requirements.
  3. Track similar organizations undergoing major transformative initiatives and modernization efforts to identify potential challenges, lessons learned, and viable strategies for your organization.

About GovCIO

GovCIO uses IT to transform how government works for the better. From the U.S. military to Health and Human Services, our consultants create solutions that optimize how our customers operate and help prepare them for current and future demands.

Click below to learn more about how we can help your organization today!

View Our Management & Mission Capabilities