Many industries face new challenges brought on by the impact of today’s technologies and the idea of digital transformation. Electric utilities, for example, find both challenges and opportunities in the penetration of new technologies into the distribution grid and back office management systems. Looking ahead, these impacts will continue to gain strength.

A good framework is required to guide, organize and oversee strategic, tactical and operational activities. Having such a framework will improve decision-making, reduce total cost of ownership and mitigate risk, helping to achieve organizational objectives consistently throughout a project and subsequently throughout the implementation life cycle. This approach includes aligning and coordinating the strategy and planning behind decision-making, life cycle delivery, information, organization and people, and risk management.

Project management offices (PMOs) have become increasingly popular for large corporate initiatives with many moving pieces and vendors. A PMO forms an important part of any program but a key role is its ability to make certain decisions that affect operational use are aligned with organizational goals. When many projects are working toward a similar, overarching goal, each project goal must align not only from project to project, but also from an operations level all the way up to the board management level.

PMOs spend a lot of time coordinating work between projects. Part of the challenge is the siloed nature of many businesses. And while dependencies of projects may be aligned with each other, the use of delivered solutions may not be fully aligned with top-level organizational goals. This is often the result of compensation and measurement systems that are targeted at measuring the performance of these silos and not the whole organization.

The term “line of sight” is defined by the Institute of Asset Management (IAM) as “the clear connectivity between the organization strategic plan (commonly called the business plan) and the on-the-ground daily activities of individual departments (planning, engineering, procurement, operations, maintenance, performance management, etc.).” Line of sight is all about aligning the top-down aspirations of an organization with the bottom-up realities and opportunities of day-to-day decisions. If that line of sight is broken by competing objectives and compartmentalized budgets, the effectiveness of the resulting solutions will be severely limited.

The framework for integrating various projects needs to not only track progress against common metrics but also must see that they are aligned within this broader governance framework. PMOs are in an ideal place to provide the foundation for this alignment as new programs are developed and rolled out in a digitally focused future.


The need for data governance at utilities is increasing as the industry transforms. PMOs can provide the underlying structure needed for data governance success.

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Mark Knight is a principal consultant with 1898 & Co., part of Burns & McDonnell. He has worked as a utility employee in the United Kingdom and the U.S., and as a consultant for utilities and other clients in the electric supply industry. From distribution, transmission, metering and systems integration to deregulation, grid modernization and interoperability, to asset management, risk management, resilience, and transactive energy, Knight draws on his experience to find new ways to create value for clients.