Will Digitalized Transformation “transform” PPM?

Will Digitalized Transformation “transform” PPM?

According to PMI Pulse of the Profession 2019, 85% of organizations are already into digitalized transformation. Sounds like good news, but are they really? First of all, many of these companies have “digital labs” where the brightest minds are tackling digitalized transformation projects which, in many cases, are not. You cannot claim to be in that realm just because you are using mobile or the cloud. While the purpose of this article is not to get into what digitalized transformation is and is not, this serves to point out the concern of projects using this “label” to get priority treatment and a “get out of jail card” from portfolio governance.

A reputable source, which I prefer not to quote, calls for “Beyond ROI” when it comes to digitalized transformation. This seems to be happening anyway, as 25% of digitalized transformation projects have not generated benefits. The fact that forecasting and verifying value for these type of projects may require new approaches and skills doesn’t mean that we have to drop measuring value. That would be equivalent to making the decision to go over the speed limit because we are in a hurry, and tampering with the speedometer, so we don’t know how fast we are driving when we get caught.

According to PMI, by 2022 organizations worldwide will spend 2 trillion dollars in digitalized transformation. What this means to PPM is:

  • A lot of projects will land in our portfolios
  • Short cycle from idea to realization of benefits; our yearly planning exercises won’t cut it
  • Our portfolios will be a mixed bag, so a “one size fits all” approach will not be sufficient:
    • Digitalized transformational product projects,
    • Non digitalized transformational product projects (there will always be a new insurance or banking product that is not digital and doesn’t transform anything)
    • Infrastructure projects, some of them needed to support digitalized transformation, which poses the question: are they operational or part of the transformational strategy?
    • Pure operational projects

PPM will be severely impacted in the next few years by the coming Digitalized Transformation Tsunami. Gartner projects that 60% of PMs in IT will be replaced by other roles outside of IT; the project management function will still be there but will be done by somebody that doesn’t call him/herself a PM, so PM schools beware, and “PM light” training will get a boost. In addition, 70% of PMOs will be re-structured or reduced. The key to be on the right camp is to become an enabler and not an obstacle. Zombie PMOs with clipboards and checklists will simply not survive. Skills like translating company strategy into a portfolio of initiatives and tracking benefits to KPIs key to the strategy will differentiate PMOs that can sit at the table with the business and finance to implement strategy. Now, I wonder, would that be transformational?