Maximize opportunities on digitalization, the main challenge of Spanish PMOs

Consolidated technology to understand Project Management as a strategic skill in the transformation of organizations, to maximize opportunities on digitalization in parallel to the usual operation, to establish monitoring and reporting routines and significant increase in the use of hybrid and agile methodologies. These are the main conclusions of the ‘Report on the value of Project Management Offices in Spain 2019’ we presented last October 3 in the Sala de Graus de laSalle (Ramón Llull University) of Barcelona.

In this study, prepared by Izertis and in which 80 companies from 10 different economic sectors have collaborated, we also collect other results. For example, that staff skills (and not just techniques) are becoming increasingly important to be successful. Aspects such as empathy, peer collaboration and adaptability to all kinds of situations are increasingly important to achieve the expected results.

The surveyed companies pointed to the alignment of professionals with the strategic objectives of the company, the support of the top management and the ability to correctly measure the results and benefits of projects.

Alignment with the company's strategic objectives, a key factor for success

The report has highlighted the alignment with the strategic objectives of the company as the main value factor of a PMO, since every project should emerge as a result of a strategic business initiative, maximizing the tangible or intangible benefits of the investment, and measuring them appropriately. The second factor of importance is of special mention because it refers to the talent of the resources of the PMO, specifically soft skills, such as emotional intelligence, flexibility or communication, skills needed to manage people and projects correctly and efficiently.

In the area of competence of the Project Management Offices there is a clear predominance of the concern to adapt to the new technologies of the companies. 86% of surveyed consider maximizing opportunities on digitalization as a priority.

On the other hand, the report shows a clear pivot of the PMO report level in Spain. While In 2017 the CEO was the figure to report par excellence (46% of cases), In 2019 this percentage drops considerably and is reached by the figure of the CIO (39%) and a new role, the Director of Transformation (6%). These results corroborate the importance of the strategic approach of PMOs to help organizations to achieve their corporate objectives.

The big wish: report automation

Questioned by automation wishes for the future, the participating companies focused their attention on reports and reporting. 77% of the companies pointed out this task as priority since 80% do not have any type of automation, followed by budget tracking and planning management. Portfolio optimization, the decision-making process and resource management, although minority, also appear among the automation objectives of Spanish PMOs.

Finally, in the study we included a section to analyse the frequency of review of the objectives and the possibility of knowing the status of projects and resources in real time. First, 44% of the companies admitted they review objectives only once a year, only 4% do so when a project is completed and 13% do it every semester.

Regarding the real-time progress of projects and resources, 34% say they know how their projects are going, but the figure drops to 19% when asked about resources.

Microsoft and own tools dominate

In the study we collect aspects related to the use of project management tools. In this case, Microsoft and own tools are presented as the most used, followed by Jira (14%) and Daptiv (8%). 59% of participating companies use some solution of these brands along with other custom made (17%).

The planning and management of the portfolio and costs are still the main uses of these tools, which also help in real-time analysis, task prioritization and demand control. It should be noted that only 26% use portfolio management tools (PPM).

Also, in the survey we asked about the methodologies used. In just two years there has been a curious paradigm shift: the self-methodology dominated in 2017 while in 2019 it coexists with those based on Waterfall, which have risen 4%. The hybrid methodologies appear strongly (38%) and the agile ones increase from 20% to 33%. SAFe also breaks into the stage, although with little representation (4%). These results show the cultural transition that companies are experiencing to adapt to more changing and agile work environments.

The day ended with a round table in which participated José Ramón Rodríguez, professor of Systems Management of the UOC and report advisor; Àngels Listán, IT PMO & Finance Manager at Almirall; Dídac López, CIO at the University of Girona; and Juan José Gonzalez, director of the area of Business Consulting, Project & Service Management at Izertis, who discussed the main success factors, skills and methodologies of Spanish PMOs.