The Digital PMO: Shifting Organizations

from Project base to product base organization


Article two in a three-part series


By By Waffa Karkukly, PhD and Ian Laliberte, MBA

Ontario, Canada




In the first article of this series, we focused on the need for PMOs to become digital to stay valuable for their organization and continue to improve and adopt industry trends; and to be more equipped to support their organizations’ digital transformations. We explored the PMOs landscape today and what is expected of them to do and not do to transition to digital and how the internal readiness and external readiness preparation play an essential role in ensuring success in digitalize themselves, and be ready for their organizations’ digital shift.  In this second article, we will explore what it means to be a product based and differentiate the areas of focus for a product based vs. a project-based organization.  We will step through the required elements for a successful transformation and explain the details for each of these elements. Further, leverage a specific organization transformation to share the challenges and benefits from a product-based model, and explore what changes the new model will make to ensure success, and what are the expected outcomes and measures.  Finally, the success of the new model relies on the orchestration of the various functions namely the EPMOs/PMOs and explain the reason they need to be re-invented, as well as the for a new oversight function to be setup to support the product-based organization in the digital landscape.

Key Words:  DPMO, DMO, Journey, Platform, Product-based, Project-based, Agile.


Nearly two-thirds of CEOs and senior business executives already have a digital business transformation initiative underway at their organization. Some 90% of corporate leaders view digital business initiatives as a top priority, but 83% are not making any meaningful progress (5).

Organization differentiate themselves based on their business model, PMO is a business model that some organizations created to seek differentiation in the way they deliver products and services, or in the way they optimize on their strategic investments while maintaining the lights on for their operation.  The main problem that many organizations face today in the digital transformation is the operating model which impacts the PMO regardless of the PMO digital to gain the anticipated benefits.

In Deloitte’s most recent industry 4.0 reports, 48% of executives indicated that introducing new business models was one of the top five topics discussed most frequently within their organization, yet only half of those leaders consider themselves ready for new business model. The business model has become the basis of competitive differentiation in creating, delivering, and capturing value in the digital realm (2). According to the 2019 Gartner CIO Survey, enterprises are changing their business models and requesting help from the IT function to do so.  Forty-nine percent of the organizations surveyed reveal they experienced business model change, with 13% reporting they have already changed and 36% in the process of changing (5).

One of the most popular models that are on the rise is the product-based organization.   Businesses are making a model shift in becoming a product focus organization rather than a project focus organization for many reasons; one of the primary reasons is the digital disruption and what it means in delivery expectations. What does it mean to be a product-based organization?



To read entire article, click here


How to cite this article: Karkukly, W. and Laliberte, I. (2019).  The Digital PMO: Shifting Organizations from Project base to product base organization, PM World Journal, Vol. VIII, Issue IX, October. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/pmwj86-Oct2019-Karkukly-Laliberte-the-digital-pmo-part2.pdf



About the Authors

Dr. Waffa Karkukly

Ontario, Canada




Dr. Waffa Karkukly, PhD, MIT, PMP, ACP, CMP has over 20 years’ experience in IT, and Project Management. Waffa has helped fortune 100, midsize, and small sized organizations improve their project management practices and PMO establishments through building scalable standards and proven solutions that improved their delivery process. She held many positions ranging from big 5 to small startups where she held the responsibility of managing IT strategy and operation; in her career progression she became head of PMO with titles ranging from director to VP, responsibilities ranging from $50 million to $1billion in Enterprise assets for global and international organizations.

Waffa is a strategist and change agent who had many organizations’ transformations in building agile organization culture and building CoE for IT organizations. Waffa teaches various beginners and advance project management and IT courses at various Ontario universities and colleges. She is a program and curriculum lead developer for variety of topics aligning education certificates with practical industry needs and trends.

Waffa holds a BSC in Information Systems from DePaul University, an MIT from Northwestern University, and a PhD from SKEMA School of Business. She is a Project Management Professional (PMP), Agile Certified Professional (ACP), and Change Management Practitioner (CMP) who is dedicated to improving the understanding and standards of project management practices especially in the Value proposition of Strategy execution via Portfolio Management and PMO.

Waffa is an active PMI member who has held various positions of Director of Communication for the PMO CoP and Regional communication coordinator for the PMOLIG. Waffa was one of the committee members that built the standards for PMI-OPM3. She is a volunteer and an Academic Reviewer for PMI’s academic paper proposals selection. She contributes often in project management publications and is a frequent speaker in project management chapters and forums.

Dr Karkukly can be contacted at karkuklyw@yahoo.com



Ian Laliberte

Ontario, Canada



Ian Laliberte, MBA, PMP, PRINCE2, is Vice President of Delivery Transformation, responsible for the TD’s strategy and transformation to ‘Agile Ways of working’. Ian joined TD in January 2014 as Vice President, Canadian Banking, Auto Finance and Wealth Management PMO and led the transformation of the project execution framework. In this role, he was responsible for managing the end-to-end delivery of the change portfolio for both business and technology initiatives.  From there, Ian then took on the role of Vice President of Delivery, Shared Services, where he was responsible for strategy, operating model and overall operations of IT for Canadian Banking and Wealth.

In over 20 years he has held senior positions leading business and IT transformation through turnaround, realignment and revitalization within international distribution, manufacturing, insurance (Life and GI) and banking industries.  Before joining TD, Ian held diverse Information technology, Project Management, and leadership roles at Canadian Bearings.  He has also held executive technology roles with Aviva Insurance, which included Change and IT Strategy, EPMO, Management Information & Analytics, and he has led Commercial Lines business transformation and the implementation of a business and operating model for Aviva’s Digital business.

Ian graduated from New York Institute of Technology with an MBA in Global Management. Ian’s leadership thinking has also been recognized as part of the top 50 thought-leaders in change excellence, and he has been published in 2014 Project Management Best Practices: Achieving Global Excellence – 3rd Ed (by Dr. Kerzner), collaborated in 2012 Managing the PMO Lifecycle, by Dr. Karkukly, and many other recent PMI article and publications on standards.

Ian can be contacted at ian.laliberte@sympatico.ca