How The Project Management Office Can Drive Efficiency During Rapid Growth
View our company video
16 December, 2020

According to a report from the International Energy Agency, "solar PV generation increased 22% (+131 TWh) in 2019 and represented the second-largest absolute generation growth of all renewable technologies, slightly behind wind and ahead of hydropower. Despite decelerating growth due to recent policy changes and uncertainties in China (the largest PV market globally), 2019 was a year of record global growth in PV capacity. As competitiveness continues to improve, solar PV is still on track to reach the levels envisioned in the [Sustainable Development Scenario], which will require average annual growth of 15% between 2019 and 2030."

While solar PV generation remains an emerging industry, characterized by exponential growth, companies will need to rapidly adapt and grow to capitalize on the opportunities these market conditions provide while being agile enough to sidestep the challenges.

Some of the growth will happen through mergers and acquisitions, bringing different structural changes depending on the size and type of companies. At this point, the importance of the company vision, mission and values comes to the fore and must be reinforced so as not to lose the essence of the company.

Alternatively, acquiring, developing and constructing new assets will also drive continuous growth, and the ability to effectively manage multiple projects and portfolios simultaneously — from development to operations — will be key to meeting the company's goals.

Considering that change, management is a necessary feature for every organization. It is even more important in fast-moving emerging markets such as solar PV generation. Companies need to keep the focus on their goals while driving the organizational changes involved in scaling to a larger, more complex structure without becoming distracted.

During the last decade, we have seen how the project management office (PMO) has become crucial for the success of the companies. The PMO's responsibilities encompass creating a project's controls, risk management process and project management approaches. However, the PMO also takes a significant role during the organizational transformation phase, supporting both project and change management within the company.

One of the most important topics to consider while driving organizational changes is to define fluid communication channels to ensure the key information is provided to the decision-makers on time and to the highest standards — even when many more actors participate in those channels.

Some companies have found significant issues in trying to replicate their organizational structure on the communication channels. Yet these are not the same, and it is important to understand the difference between both.

As companies grow, so do their structures. In order to keep the company operational, organizational structures are designed to avoid too many direct reports in teams, delegating some decisions to the line managers. The layers of this structure may vary depending on their size and geographical distribution.

On the other hand, projects and portfolios keep a simpler reporting structure independent of the organization. Taking as reference the Prince2 methodology, only four layers are required from bottom-top reporting, allowing a fluid communication to corporate:

  • Team managers focus on delivering.
  • Project managers focus on managing.
  • Project board focuses on directing.
  • Corporate, program management or the customer are the highest reporting layer.
The three key areas of concern of the PMO.

The PMO provides the framework to select and execute the projects to meet the company's goals as well as the support and training to ensure project management is embedded in the organization. It also ensures the processes are in place that are optimized for the company structure.

• Creating the right fit for the organization. The PMO must support the definition of the governance of the projects and portfolios while operating effectively across the organizational structure. Within this definition, we should differentiate the reporting and communication channels — which provide projects' and portfolios' updates, segregating the information by projects' and portfolios' layers — from the escalation path, which provides the authority to the decision-makers as per the organizational structure.

• Choosing the right software to overcome potential pitfalls:As there is a wide range of software available, it is important to spend some time selecting the one that best fits your business. The corporate tool must support the company to implement its processes and governance on one side while collecting and disseminating the key data to the different layers, allowing timely decision-making based on actual data. The PMO must take an important role during the selection and maintenance of this tool, considering that flexibility and cooperativeness are probably two of the most important requirements.

• Growing and developing skilled employees: As the company grows, new employees will become part of the human capital, and new opportunities will appear for career development. The PMO must provide support during the induction and explanation of "how we do work" through process training and must be accountable for driving the development of project management skills.

Creating the PMO can enable rapid information flows, a consistent structure and a shared understanding of processes — all of which are essential to agile companies in capturing the value in dynamic emerging markets.



Joern Hackbarth

EVP, Global Head of Engineering and Construction, Sonnedix, overseeing the design and construction of assets for global solar PV platform.

As seen on Forbes

← Back to Publications