Enterprise Bulletin Q2 2020

Scicom Infrastructure Services

Enterprise Bulletin 2Q 2020

Written By:
Engagement Director, Consulting Services
Scicom Infrastructure Services, Inc

PMO in the enterprise during COVID-19 crisis

Few events in the history of humankind can parallel the kind of challenge we are facing due to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Beyond our wildest imagination, this pandemic has engulfed pretty much the entire world, and businesses have been forced to go back to the drawing board for survival. S&P Global Market Intelligence reported last month that the top five industries impacted by COVID-19 are: airlines, automobile manufacturers, hotels/resorts/cruises, auto parts & equipment and oil & gas drilling; which are among the industries that form the core of our economy. But even during this unprecedented and tempestuous time, defined and well documented processes, contingency plans and risk mitigation strategies can go a long way in avoiding business disruptions and alleviating the situation.

The principal challenge of project management has always been the attainment of specific goals within the complex constraints. One of the primary reasons behind the creation of the PMO (Project Management Office) was to manage complexity as its often the antecedent of risk. The current Coronavirus crisis has reminded us that one of the most important skills a project manager can possess is risk management. In his research of project management case studies, Harold Kerzner emphasized that the project managers should be proactive in risk identification, risk assessment, risk response and risk monitoring. Robust contingency plans, active project monitoring and quick responses to serious risk events are the only ways of countering adverse Enterprise Environmental Factors (EEF), such as COVID-19.

PMO, now more than ever!


In addition to planning unceasingly and monitoring Enterprise Environmental Factors, it is the obligation of the PMO to craft strategies for continuation of projects, programs and portfolios. Although rare, but even in this day and age it’s not entirely surprising to hear questions about the necessity or purpose of a PMO; but for any naysayer, the COVID-19 crisis has further underscored the value of the PMO as organizations with mature PMOs have actually been able to weather this storm pretty well. A mature PMO possesses a service catalogue clearly illustrating the services it delivers and has KPIs in place to measure them, which are created in consonance with business needs. Since the objective of the PMO is to work in alignment with business goals of the organization, so with established processes a PMO can guide the organization in prioritizing programs and projects along with implementing the appropriate methodology and approach to meet the need of the hour. For example, due to Coronavirus, what impact will the schedule delay have on the other two constraints (scope and budget) of the project? How will it affect the overall program? What risk does the delay in Go-Live of the project bring to the portfolio from a financial standpoint? What is the risk mitigation strategy? If organizations try to seek answers outside of the PMO to questions like these then it’s more than likely that either the answers will be inaccurate, or they will be provided at the expense of some process or resource. Therefore, in crisis situations the need of PMO becomes more critical as mature PMOs are not only always equipped to deal with the crisis, but they also allow the functional departments to focus on operations and sustainment work.


With the world trending more towards remote work, quick and lucid communication is the name of the game. Paul Watzlawick, a philosopher and psychologist, very aptly remarks in his book Pragmatics of Human Communication, “One cannot not communicate” meaning that every kind of interaction is communication. Therefore, one of the most significant tasks of a PMO is organizational communication. Marisa Silva’s March 23, 2020 article on ‘wellingtone.co.uk’ states that COVID-19 will propel the PMOs to transform into information radiators; as besides being a trusted single source of truth, PMOs must provide insights rather than just data, especially when majority of the teams are working remotely. This means that more than ever, PMOs need to make the best use of storage, collaboration and communication tools like G Suite, Microsoft Teams, Confluence, WebEx and Zoom. Project Managers have always been focused on eliminating surprises for their stakeholders, and the right use of these technologies can certainly help the PMs, as these tools not only streamline communication but also assist in monitoring and displaying statistics.

Agile, The RIGHT Attitude

Agile Methodology needs no introduction, and its value has been well recognized by organizations and PMOs across the world. Although, originally conceived for Information Technology, it has spread to multiple other industries due to its nimbleness and better client emphasis. On April 12, 2020, Tracy Brower wrote in the ‘Forbes’ that the Agile ceremonies such as daily stand up meetings, sprint planning, sprint retro and sprint review provide regular patterns to move work forward in order to counter ambiguity and uncertainty, while creating a positive state of mind. She goes on to say that since Agile allows for quick shifts and modifications to priorities, tactics or work content so,

“When situations change—as they do regularly through the coronavirus crisis—agile allows for easy shifts because work has been planned in smaller portions and over shorter time horizons.”

When values a relived by the scrum team... trust is built for everyone.

Agile Methodology has emboldened PMOs through quick decision making, shared vision and the ability for team members to make the necessary calls as they work through projects while ensuring speed and responsiveness to client requirements. COVID-19 has put a lot of pressure on numerous systems to react even more swiftly than usual, and this kind of approach is the fitting response to that.


Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) has changed the world. Director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci believes that due to this pandemic life will be different for a while, so in the new normal the need for structure and flexible methodologies has grown like never before. For better Return on Investment (ROI), emphasis will increase on performance metrics like, Schedule Performance Index (SPI) and Cost Performance Index (CPI), and the key will be optimal utilization of resources. Mature PMOs are prepared to fill this need and developing PMOs should quickly jump on this bandwagon because teamwork, agility, constant communication and impeccable use of the cutting-edge communication and collaboration tools will be the keys to future success, especially when uncertainty and complexity prevails.