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How the PMO Can Help Align Projects with Operations

By Joe Pusz

It’s happened to all of us before. You get out of a chair the wrong way or pick up something heavy and pop! Your back goes out! You double over, putting your hand on the pressure point to find relief from the unbearable pain, and try to catch your breath. When it becomes plain that no relief is to be found, you call the chiropractor for an adjustment to get you back into alignment.

Organizations Can Get Out of Alignment

It’s possible to have an organization that’s out of alignment as well. This happens by only rewarding operational activities and people, and not rewarding those who work on projects. Think about how the success of most companies is measured, which is increased sales, profits, cost reduction, and gains in market share. Operational excellence should be rewarded. But so should excellence in project work. Misalignment usually occurs when people working in operations are assigned to a project. This pulls them away from their day job and the added pressure and imbalance in priorities causes stress, misalignment. What can be done? The first thing the PMO Leader should do is to communicate how operations and projects complement each other.

How Projects Align with Operations
Projects are undertaken to break the status quo. An organization doing what it’s always done is a recipe for disaster. Projects allow you to:

  • React to competitive disruption – A project to develop something similar or better can curb the negative impact on sales.
  • Innovate to stay ahead of competition – There’s no better way to introduce something new than through a well-run project.
  • Respond to changing customer needs – You always need to have an answer to their unspoken, “What have you done for me lately?”

An Organizational Adjustment
If your organization is out of alignment because it rewards operations and ignores, or worse yet, punishes those on project teams, don’t wait to make an adjustment. Align your organization to reward those on project teams for helping create the future. Examples of alignment could be:

  • KPIs from a new project – A new feature introduced by a product update could reduce calls to Support by nearly 20% within the first month.
  • Savings from a new project – A project can introduce a more efficient way of performing a task and save the company 15% within 3 months.
  • Increased sales from a new project – This project gives customers just what they were asking, and sales could jump 30% in 6 months.

Make sure the results of the project are objective, measurable, and trackable. Reward the project teams for hitting these targets. Rewards could be monetary or recognition or whatever you feel will fit the culture of your company.

Start Your Adjustment Today
Executives and shareholders favor operations because it’s easy to understand and their return on investment is clear. You can achieve similar results with projects by following this five-step treatment plan:

  1. Understand and communicate the relationship between project work and operations
  2. Review how project and operations teams are compensated and rewarded
  3. Review how project teams and operations teams are working together
  4. Develop an AS-IS and TO-BE model for the future
  5. Make any necessary adjustments. If you find yourself in organizational pain caused by misalignment of operations and project teams, start making those adjustments today! You’ll be amazed at the results and how much better everyone will feel.


Joe Pusz

PMO Joe is an internationally recognized leader in the Project Management and PMO community. He is a frequent Keynote Speaker, Author, Project Management Innovator, and is a Finalist for 2022 World PMO Influencer of the Year by the PMO Global Alliance. Joe speaks on topics of Leadership, PMOs, Purpose Driven Mindset, the Project Management Journey, and a variety of other trending Project Management topics.

Disclaimer: The ideas, views, and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of International Institute for Learning or any entities they represent.

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