4 Ways Big Data is Disrupting the PMO

4 Ways Big Data is Disrupting the PMO

Project Management Offices have had their share of challenges over the last ten years, and PMI’s Pulse of the Profession report sheds some light on new opportunities.

One thing is for certain about big data: it requires a project or program framework with all the right resources onboard to manage the assets. Earlier this year, I wrote an article discussing megatrends and project management, and I only scratched the surface of big data.

What is Big Data?

IBM defines big data as follows:

“Big data is being generated by everything around us at all times. Every digital process and social media exchange produces it. Systems, sensors and mobile devices transmit it. Big data is arriving from multiple sources at an alarming velocity, volume and variety. To extract meaningful value from big data, you need optimal processing power, analytics capabilities and skills.”

What has been the impact to PMOs?

Big data has swept through several key business areas, developing many projects in retail, military, healthcare, construction, government and other sectors. Project offices were launched in response to these large and complex “big data” projects, and their primary roles were to work with the business to request a bid for a solution, implement the vendor solution, and be the custodians of the vendor/system integrator contract for the stakeholders/organization until it was implemented as a program.

What are the four key big data disruptors for PMOs?

Here are the four Big Data disruptors in organizational PMOs, as identified by research and experts in the field, as well as key reasons these disruptors will continue to bring about change in the field of project management.

1. Management approaches

According to the International Journal of Project Management white paper by Whyte, Stasis and Lindkvist, digital technologies have radically transformed project delivery.

The use of mobile technology, cloud computing, and integrated software for business intelligence systems has “broken the mould of established approaches to project management, enabling rapid, flexible forms of project organizing.”

Because so many of today’s complex projects “are high-tech, capital-intensive engineering projects that are of a significant scale, relatively long duration,” they “require firms to work collaboratively across firm boundaries in project delivery.”

2. Skillsets

Progressive iteration of project experience is how you build your knowledge, skills and abilities. Staying abreast of technology, methods and processes along with a good helping of core skill training will help prepare you for your next project.

3. Change

Manage project lifecycle change as well as product lifecycle configuration change. Large big data projects may seem to blur the lines of change. It’s important to know the difference between configuration management vs change management.

4. Cognitive technologies

Move over digital futures—next is cognitive technologies. Ginni Rometty, President, Chairman and CEO of IBM shares in her essay for MIT Sloan Management that “digital is not the destination but the foundation.” Rometty talks about the transformation and suggests that cognitive technologies will learn to understand what the data means and, as a result, new tech jobs will be created that don’t exist today.

What Do Other Experts in the Community Have to Say?

During my research, I reached out to a few project management thought leaders on Twitter to get the pulse from our community.

Elise Stevens, project leadership coach and mentor, said that big data can be used to improve the PMO function within an organization in these ways:

It can provide greater insight to our customers about the performance of the portfolio.
It can enable the introduction of new project metrics that support agile project delivery approaches.
It can improve the performance of the Project Managers through qualitative measures.

“The age of Big Data is upon us,” Stevens concluded. “PMOs who embrace the Big Data approach and technology will be able to improve efficiencies and add value to the organization.”

Priya Patra, senior manager of Capgemini India, also shared her views on how SMACT (S ocial, M obile, A nalytics/Big Data, C loud, and the Internet of T hings) can be leveraged to enable accelerated change and deliver business value. Here’s her list:

• Social—Cost- and time-efficient collaboration and crowdsourcing of intelligence
• Mobile—Eliminating paperwork by augmenting or replacing human data entry at the right time and right place
• Analytics—Effective information reporting and optimizing the speed and quality of decision making through Big Data and Business Intelligence
• Cloud  - Services selected and implemented effectively in the enterprise, in the cloud and across teams to foster co-creation and innovation
• Things - Things can do the data entry instead of people

“We must digitize to survive, but this journey is an uncertain one,” Patra concludes. “A PMO in this age of big data / digitization needs to evolve and go beyond standardization to enable variation and foster innovation.”

Certainly, there are lots of different views on how big data is disrupting PMOs. Big data will continue to have an impact now and in the near future.