Jumping the divide




Digitizing the project management office is a process of defining and refining.


Cloud computing, big data, virtualization and smartphones have become synonymous with progress. The drive to digitize is forcing companies to take bold steps to transform their support functions, including the project management office (PMO).

My organization, du Telecom, sees the digitization of its corporate PMO as a must, according to du's CEO, Osman Sultan. “UAE is the forerunner for the digital revolution in the Arab world,” says Mr. Sultan. “This means that organizations have to embrace digitization in order to survive. Central to this digitization is the digital PMO, which for many companies can become a key enabler for creativity and innovation in the digital age.”

The corporate PMO at du has embarked on a journey to identify the key building blocks to transform into a digital PMO. But first, we had to do one thing: Define “digital PMO.”


For du, the “digital PMO” doesn't mean the PMO is focused on tech projects. It means the PMO has the capability to provide project data anytime and anywhere to enable executives to make informed decisions about their projects. For instance, via a portal, executives can track project portfolios, view the status of individual projects, assign resources from one project portfolio to another, approve budgetary requests, drill down to view the finer details of projects, resolve issues and comment on what the project team is doing. They should be able to do this in real time on any device and have access to the portal anywhere in the world.

The new definition forces the PMO to rely on an in-house resource database capability to give it an accurate picture of all physical resources (i.e., servers, applications, storage, networks, etc.) under its domain, together with an accurate picture of manpower working under its authority—that is, who is doing what and when, how much time they can spend on the new request and how much it will cost.


We suspect the change in the way we define the PMO will change the way internal customers will engage with the PMO when requesting services. With cloud computing, for example, customers will be able to request through multiple channels a myriad of services—on the go—ranging from the simple download of templates to placing requests for program managers. The cloud also allows customers to track their orders, submit trouble tickets and provide instantaneous feedback.

To make this change happen, the PMO is embracing a variety of social platforms to communicate with customers, executives, project teams and vendors. This is in addition to existing methods of communication such as email, text and written correspondence. Some project management tools already provide such capabilities, but integrating new platforms with legacy platforms requires careful thought and planning, especially around the protection of data. It's a challenge we are tackling this year.

These are just some of the key elements and challenges of taking a PMO into the digital world. But PMOs must embrace new technologies or risk falling behind. PM


Abid Mustafa is a director of corporate programs for du Telecom, a telecom operator and PMI Global Executive Council member in the United Arab Emirates. He is the author of In the Age of Turbulence: How to Make Executive PMOs Successful.




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