Crossing the Information Divide: How PMOs Can Communicate Strategic Value to Execs


bridging the Divide - LinkedIn PostToday, we're delving into a hot topic that is key to PMO success - securing that elusive executive support. If you've ever felt like you're navigating a maze to win over the hearts and minds of your company's top brass, you're not alone. The path to securing that golden executive backing is often fraught with hurdles, miscommunications, and, let's be honest, a bit of frustration on both sides.

As this is one of the top struggles we hear from PMOs we work with, we loved this recent episode of the PMO Strategies podcast. In the podcast, renowned PMO thought-leader Laura Barnard gives important insight into this issue from the execs point of view, and also explores findings from KeyedIn’s PMO Outlook Report 2023, which can help us understand where PMOs need to focus to improve the problem.

So, let’s dive into some key points raised by the podcast…

The Executive SOS

Imagine this: top executives, the movers and shakers of your organization, are often the ones calling in external PMO consultants for help - not the PMO leaders. Sounds surprising, right? But it's true. What does this tell us? Well, executives are actively looking for solutions, and they want the PMO to be a part of it.

But when they're lying awake at 3 AM, staring at the ceiling, execs are not fretting about project timelines or resource allocations per se. What's really gnawing at them is their need for information on a far more fundamental concern: "Do we have a clear, strategic direction, and are we doing the right things to get there?". And this is where the magic begins for PMOs…

Speaking the Language of Strategy

The key to unlocking executive support lies in translating PMO activities into strategic narratives. It's about shifting the conversation from the operational to the strategic. Instead of leading with timelines, budgets, and resource charts, start with providing information about how your projects align with and drive the company's strategic goals.

This doesn't mean the details aren't important, but it's about framing those details within the bigger picture that resonates with executives. This approach turns your PMO into a strategic partner rather than just a project overseer. Laura Barnard goes into more detail about how the PMO can drive strategic impact in this recorded webinar:

Prioritization: A Powerful Alignment Tool

Now, let's sprinkle a little fairy dust called prioritization. It's not just about doing things right, but doing the right things. Project prioritization is your magic wand to align projects with business strategy effectively, and our free Ultimate Guide to Prioritization dives deeply into how to do this well. Highlighting the importance of prioritization, the PMO Outlook Report 2023 found that project prioritization was the second most commonly cited portfolio management challenge, after resource management.

The beauty of implementing a best-practice prioritization process is that when executives see that you're not just managing projects, but are actively ensuring that each one contributes to strategic goals, then you're speaking their language. And guess what? They'll listen!

Highlight Strategic Value

Imagine walking into an executive meeting armed not just with spreadsheets and Gantt charts, but with a clear, concise dashboard that highlights how each project (and the resources assigned to it) is a stepping stone toward strategic milestones. This kind of visibility does wonders for not just keeping executives in the loop but actively engaging them in the PMO's journey. And when they can see the forest for the trees, their support isn't far behind

Collaboration is Key

The road to executive support is paved with collaboration. It's about creating a two-way street where executives don't just hear about what the PMO is doing, but are actively involved in shaping its direction. Tools and strategies for collaborative decision-making can transform the PMO-executive relationship from one of requester and approver to true strategic partners.

Bridging the Strategy Execution Gap

The strategy execution gap is where many strategic visions go to die. It's one thing to have a strategy, but executing it is where the real challenge lies. PMOs are uniquely positioned to bridge this gap. By aligning projects with strategic objectives and providing the visibility and prioritization needed, PMOs can turn strategic plans into actionable, achievable goals. And when executives see this in action, their support for the PMO skyrockets.

As Laura highlighted in the podcast, the results from the PMO Outlook Report 2023 indicate that only 8% of PMOs say their resources are well aligned with the strategic priorities of the business. If you are one of the other 92%, our Guide to Strategic Alignment might help!

Wrapping Up

Unlocking executive support isn't about grand gestures or sweeping changes overnight. It's about consistently aligning PMO activities with strategic objectives, communicating effectively, and fostering collaboration. When executives see their strategic visions being translated into actionable plans with clear outcomes that maximize ROI, their support for the PMO becomes a given.

With these tools in your arsenal, you're not just running a PMO; you're leading a strategic powerhouse that's integral to your organization's success. And yes, your executives will take notice.

Here's to your PMO becoming the strategic hero your company needs!


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