3 Themes from 2017 Gartner PPM Summit


The annual Gartner Program & Portfolio Management Summit tends be a good source of where the PPM industry is heading and this year’s conference in June proved no different. The newest trend – Projects are out and Products are in.

Last year the conference focus was on Bi-modal or the rise of Agile, up-skilling IT, and Resource Management.  This year the conference focused on Driving Innovation at the Speed of Business where 3 key themes were presented:  Digital, Strategy and Governance.

Digital:  Projects are out and Products are in

Agile has proliferated this year with a complete change in nomenclature.  Business Capabilities  – what you do, and Business Processes – how you do it – were mentioned in lieu of the traditional conversation around projects.

DevOps is increasing, SAFe and other Agile frameworks while not mentioned last year, were a continuous discussion point this year.

According the Version One 11th Annual State of Agile Report, “while 94% of respondents said their organizations practiced agile, 60% of those reported that less than 50% of their organizations’ teams are actually practicing agile”.  We will continue to see attention on Agile and more teams come to grips with how to implement.

In Gartner Analyst Matthew Hotle’s session on Pivot the Portfolio toward Product Delivery, he highlighted one of the main themes of the conference – “By 2020, digital business leaders will have pivoted from project to product portfolio management.”  He recommends to therefore transform the organization from “Projects” to “Products”.  Why you may ask?  Projects are always… late, while products are released continuously.

Looking to get started on the road to Agile?  As a Scaled Agile Partner, MI-GSO | PCUBED has SAFe Program Consultants who will work with you to optimize your implementations of the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), mobilize and deliver bimodal programs and ensure you maximize the benefits of Agile.  Not ready to bite off a Scaled Agile transformation just yet?  Here are 3 ways to get started on your journey to Agile.

Strategy:  It’s all about the Execution

The Gartner conference has many sessions running concurrently so I was unable to attend all that I had hoped for.  However, several artists from visualharvesting.com completed a graphic recording or contextualization of the keynote presentations which they then displayed in the main concourse throughout the conference.  As an engineer I frankly take my hat off to those that can do this – huge appreciation for their skill.

This one on Ideation to Action highlights the transformation from projects to products and the need to align business to strategy.

Where in 2016 Gartner focused on the need to up skill the traditional PMO to shift to business value, this year the focus was on the re-imagined PMO.

Last year Gartner Analyst Mike Hanford predicted that by 2018 we would see a 70% reduction of IT PMOs.  Vikas Patel, during his Merck presentation – The Next Generation PMO, reiterated this need for a Next Generation PMO with some startling statistics of his own.

“60% of organizations do not link their strategic priorities to their budget”
– Bridges 2016 survey of Strategy Implementation

“80% of project management executives do not know how their projects align with their company’s business strategy”
– The Economic Intelligence Unit, March 2013

He highlighted how on one side you have the Management Team aligned around the organizations’ strategic objectives and on the other hand you have the end users who get aligned by relating products to resolution of pains.  There is no link between the strategy and the execution. 

Enter the Next Generation PMO who sits in the middle as the interface between the two.

This relation of products to strategy has some renaming the PMO to an Enterprise PMO, Business Transformation Office, Continuous Innovation Center of Excellence or my favorite, the Strategy Realization Office.  The focus is on executing the strategy not just reporting on it.  While it does still require the right tools and data to enable effective decision making, the next generation PMO is focused on driving portfolio alignment to strategy.

What is required in order to move to a Strategy Realization Office?  The Next Gen, or Smart PMO as we refer to it internally at Pcubed, will need to perfect portfolio analytical skills, formalize change management to implement strategy induced change and refine adaptive approaches for delivery.


The final main theme of the conference centered on Governance, or driving alignment of the portfolio to the strategy.  The focus wasn’t on the initial alignment but on the follow through and ongoing re-alignment.  During Cargill’s presentation on Enabling Business Capabilities and Driving Project Transparency, Debra Bond drove home this point.

“By 2020, 70% of projects will be approved based on strategic value, while only 56% of projects will be approved on the traditional Return on Investment. In addition, once approved only 30% of governance teams revisit the business case, while only 7% focus on benefits realization.”

The SMART PMO is at the epicenter of fully aligning the portfolio to the delivery thereof.  With the distractors of realigning processes and nomenclature to support the transition from projects to product management it is easy to lose sight of the basic tenant of doing the right things and doing them right.

Yes, the PMO as a Strategy Realization Office, will need to collect the right data in order to present the right information to enable decision making against the right outcomes.  However, they also will need to maintain focus on Strategy through to Execution, allowing the organization to clearly articulate where value is achieved and quickly re-align teams to the subsequent critical focus areas.

In closing, Driving Innovation at the Speed of Business will definitely require a focus on Digital, Strategy and Governance, however it will also require a focus on Change Management.  In driving speed to value, we also need to take into account the pace of change an organization is capable of handling. 

Our Change Management practice has successfully developed tools to assess the Culture, Stakeholders, Impact and Sustainability of Change for those organizations looking to develop a balanced road map for organizational transformation. 

For further information on this article and MI-GSO | PCUBED

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