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Digital Transformation Succeeds When You Empower the Program Management Office

When PMO is focused on the right tasks, service providers can improve the success rates of their digital transformation programs.

As new technologies join with existing platforms and operators digitalize their businesses and services, the number of IT and network projects soars. Whether deploying in the cloud, on-premises or subscribing to a service, there is a need to manage the implementation and, more importantly, the integration projects that enable legacy and next-generation technologies to work together. This is where program management offices (PMOs) can largely contribute and enable success.

PMO needs more than IT; it needs qualified business analysts.

In one of our studies from last year, conducted in collaboration with ICT Intuition, we found that 72 percent of operators identified system interoperability and integration among the biggest challenges to delivering digital services. PMOs have been around for decades but over time have become marginalized to the point where project and program managers are merely keeping track of schedules and staff. Yet the greatest advantage of a well-structured PMO is the ability to get the integration right. This is particularly important today as service providers face new challenges when virtualizing their networks, enabling digital services and delivering a rich digital experience to customers. Digital transformation demands that integration takes place from the core of the network to the applications on a device; it is often the failure of that integration that costs operators time, money and reputation. The PMO is in a central position to leverage its visibility across the entire business, ensure that each integration effort fits with the others and is consistent with corporate standards and strategies. To do that, a PMO needs more than IT; it needs a stable of experienced and qualified business analysts (BAs) that understand every aspect of the business and the systems in use.

Owning the Integration

Since integration projects often involve multiple systems, IT staff and business units and usually require support from vendor consulting services or delivery teams, responsibility for the success of those projects falls to the PMO, which should embrace more than just scheduling and resources. Instead, PMO should also prioritize the following aspects during integrations.

  • Structure – A dedicated manager, BAs and IT staff should report to and be directed by the PMO for every internal development, procurement or integration project. Staff can rotate or be matrixed depending on needs and/or the project size. However, when staff is dedicated to a specific project, their responsibilities shouldn’t change midstream. If too many times projects get added to existing duties, then none will get the proper attention.
  • Teamwork – The analysts in the PMO should come from business units so they can accurately define processes and understand business problems. An IT counterpart can then help translate business requirements into systems requirements and ensure that corporate standards are maintained. Once the requirements are established, BAs can ensure that test procedures and outcomes are accurately defined and executed.
  • Commitment – The business must commit to the PMO structure and include them in budget, program and project approvals. The PMO is uniquely qualified to outline business cases for new or updated solutions. Likewise, the PMO will ensure that interoperability, as well as support and operational requirements, are included in system specifications. The PMO takes a business-wide view of systems and, as a result, can ensure a smooth transition to new technologies.
  • Process – Every solution implements a process and the PMO must own the processes. Digital solutions are more than the automation of manual workflow; they usually require a change in business processes because of the new technology’s capabilities. Understanding how systems influence processes while ensuring that the right processes are being implemented is a major challenge that service providers need to get right.
  • Engagement – The digitalization of business processes and the accurate execution of those processes by integrated systems is an iterative exercise. It requires the PMO to engage with the business at every level and accurately translate business needs to digital technology solutions. That’s different than just mapping automated workflows, as it involves understanding necessary functionality and defining the processes and technologies that deliver the greatest benefit and return on investment.

As operators transition into digital service providers, PMO can and needs to take on a larger role. In addition to defining optimal processes and systems requirements, a PMO should set corporate standards for data models, data management, APIs, software development, testing, trials and procurement. Centralized decisions and process flows from the PMO will make these transitions more likely to result in success.