Strategic Investment PlanningAt Forrester’s recent Business Process And Application Delivery Forum, there was a very interactive session on “Using The Next-Generation PMO To Promote Innovation,” led by Margo Visitacion. The premise of the session was that leading-edge PMOs (project management offices) are evolving to a more strategic role, focused on portfolio management of business investment rather than just IT projects or programs.

Many clients have suggested their PMO mission is already elevated to this level. They now focus their efforts on everything from guiding business leaders through building a business case for the investments they want to make, to guiding decision-makers through selection from the portfolio of investment proposals, to tracking benefits realization and ROI after the fact. PMOs with this kind of business-focused, strategic mission have greater business impact and are often close partners with executives leading their firm.

During the session, one of the attendees asked an interesting question: “At our firm, the functions you describe are led by the enterprise architecture team, as part of the strategic planning and business architecture process. Which is better suited to doing this function, EA or the PMO?” This raises a further question as to the role of the office of the CIO and IT strategic planning — should CIOs own strategic planning, and if so, where do you draw the lines between the role of the CIO, EA, and the PMO? What about IT’s demand management team (relationship mangers & business consultants) — where do they fit in?

As Mike Gilpin suggests in his post on the topic, we could offer up the standard consulting response of “it depends” — Mike offers a number of caveats to help guide your decision. Alex Cullen takes a slightly different approach in his post, offering up suggestions for EA and PMO to collaborate on the implementation of strategy through the governance process. But what of strategy planning? I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the CIO must own strategy development — it’s one of the most important parts of the CxOs’ role — and the strategy is executed through the combined efforts of business-facing professionals: EA, demand management, and the PMO, with the CIO or the office of the CIO acting as the guiding force and overall administrator of any strategic planning function.

My colleague Chip Gliedman agrees: “We’re talking about the leadership and the execution. The PMO really deals with execution. EA may have a planning and execution role, but the CIO must own charter, direction, and oversight of any strategic planning or strategic investment function. What’s more, the CIO should probably own some budget that can be invested outside of business-controlled funds for strategic investments in infrastructure, architecture, scalability, or reusability.”

What about your organization? Where does strategic investment management sit within your organization? How well does this work for your business? Would you suggest changes? Please post your comments on Twitter @nigelfenwick, below or in the discussion on the Forrester community.

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