What we need is ensuring delivery of value and sustaining it from the project. Project management is one of the means to do that and while necessary, it is not on its own sufficient.
For example, an organization takes on a project to deploy a new HR system. Even if the system is deployed and stakeholders are trained, still there is no value. The value comes when the system is put to use. Even then, it is still a waste of time on the long run, if the measures to ensure sustainability of the value are not in place.
Many Project Management Offices (PMO’s) ignore the real reason they are there, which is the ultimate success of their projects and that comes from delivering sustained value. Without that, a project is a tool to collect money from a promised, but not delivered or sustained value. On the long-term that does not work.
However, PMO’s cannot solve this problem alone. Without upper management support on the client and supplier side, it is hard for the PMO to go beyond the narrow marginal goal of delivering successful projects.
Clients need to budget for change management and sustainability. Request for Proposals must insist on sections that cover both. I would put a considerable part of the evaluation score of any proposal on these two items. If suppliers are not capable of handling these parts I would require a change management model to be enforced on the project and request that the supplier bring in the techniques and expertise necessary to do these two parts.
Performing organizations need to discuss with clients the needs for sustainability and ensuring value delivery at the upper management level. Also, start raising awareness of buyers to the importance of sustainability and the importance of handling it in a structured manner.
The new fad in the coming years will be going beyond deliverables and focusing on value. This is why “program management” might start getting more appeal. When you request delivery of services and supporting this delivery with sustainability and change management activities, this endeavor is beginning to take on the shape of a program, not only a project. Because a program can carry project as well as operational components to it, as it strives to deliver benefits, not only deliverables.
Currently, projects and support periods post projects are looked at as two separate periods, almost separated from each other. PMOs need to start looking beyond their narrow scope of delivering projects and merely providing support, but to also accommodate programs by forming a Program Management Office (PgMO) for each of its programs to accommodate the need to deliver value.
Many research show that PMO’s will continue to be questioned about the value they bring to an organization. I think PMOs are safe and will continue to flourish at firms whose main product can only be delivered through projects. However at firms who deliver value through operations, and projects are means to improve the value delivered, PMOs will be scrutinized to ensure they go beyond just delivering projects and focus more on delivering and sustaining value.