PMO2 – The a-connect approach to project management

Fuelled by technological enablers and faster product and innovation cycles, our work environment is becoming increasingly complex and far more project-driven. Project work is consequently more strategic, especially with regards to stakeholder and change management, as well as decision-making. As a result, there is an increasing need to inject the right talent at the right point in time in order to successfully manage and execute projects within today's highly competitive, globalised business world.

While working with our clients, we have observed that the term 'project management office' (PMO), which is often used in the market, is frequently understood in an administrative way, focusing on providing structure to manage a given project. However, in order to successfully manage complex projects with high visibility, we strongly believe that it is crucial to understand PMO work in a more holistic context, adding a strategic element to the purely administrative interpretation of the term. Whereas project structuring – the rather administrative part of project management work – is usually industry-agnostic, the more strategic work requires in-depth industry knowledge and line management experience.

Challenging the incomplete market perception of PMO work, we have developed the PMO 2 framework, which aims to help our clients better understand and assess their PMO needs, define the necessary capabilities, and identify the correct number and level of resources required to successfully manage a given project beyond just providing the right structure.



In order to better illustrate our concept, we have broadly defined two roles based on the current perception of PMO work:

(1)The illustration displays what we describe above as the administrative element of PMO work, providing structure and analytical rigour. This element is highlighted in light blue on the left side of the diagram.

(2)The illustration also defines the area that is typically not covered by the traditional understanding of PMO work, but which can be handled by professionals with the right industry and management expertise. This area is highlighted in light red on the right side of the diagram.

The PMO 2 framework is based on eight PMO capability areas that are represented in a spider diagram with eight axes. Each axis stands for a project management capability:

  • Strategic Decision Support: driving decision-making and prioritization in cooperation with the senior management, supporting resource planning as well as establishing an overview of associated risk
  • Change Management: ensuring stringent methodologies and consistent processes and acting as a 'Manager of Change'
  • Stakeholder Management: managing stakeholders and their agendas, removing obstacles and shortages, monitoring and controlling interdependencies
  • Communication: establishing clear communication plans, executing on them and involving all stakeholders
  • Governance: driving project planning and resource allocation as well as building up the decision framework to link strategy to execution, taking care of escalation and progress management
  • Project Execution: leading tactical steering and assurance of project deliverables by leveraging standardised processes, tools, templates, training and support
  • Performance Monitoring: monitoring and proactive management of project activities, results and milestones, ensuring ongoing reporting, progress, efficiency and resource utilisation
  • Administrative Support: providing administrative support such as meeting preparation and management, project office management, minutes-writing, etc.

In essence, the organisation and staffing of every important project should cover both roles and all eight capabilities, either with separate resources or, ideally, with someone who can switch between both roles as needed. Independent of internal or external resource requirements, applying the PMO 2 framework helps our clients understand what capabilities are necessary in order to ensure a successful project outcome. This strategy also shapes the project staffing requirements internally and externally in the case of capability gaps.

At a-connect we use the PMO 2 approach by establishing a deep understanding of our clients' business challenges and project needs, allowing us to choose the best talent from our unrivalled network of independent professionals, who usually combine a top-tier consulting skillset with extensive industry and line management experience. With their unique skillsets and our expertise, we seamlessly integrate a-connect professionals into project management organisations along all eight PMO capability areas – worldwide and in a tailor made way.