PMO in practice - PMO SIG conference, May 2014

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Posted by APM on 11th Aug 2014

This year’s PMO SIG conference revolved around making the event practical, enabling all the delegates to take away something from the day.

The top reasons for the conference were:

  1. PMO fails to quantify its value and the benefits it brings to the business. 
  2. Lack of support from senior management.
    Most PMO people have been there; Senior Management wants a PMO but don’t want to be governed. How is it possible to deal with this paradox?
  3. The PMO implemented is not the correct model for what the business needs. 
  4. Business needs and direction change due to external forces. 
  5. Cost constraints & restructures.
    On the day this went hand in hand with the demonstrable value - if the PMO cannot show how it adds value, it may not survive a restructure.
  6. Differing perceptions of the role of a PMO from those within the PMO itself, the project teams, senior management and the wider stakeholder groups

In addition topics to note included:

  • Lack of PMO credibility as a profession. 
    In some organisations, the view that this is not a bonafide industry still rings true.
  • The PMO fails to evolve with the business.
    Five years is the average life of a PMO according to research. How do we stop the 5 year-itch? 

Stuart Dixon opened with Eileen J Roden. Shortly after the conference was opened there followed by an exercise around why PMOs fail. 

Huw James from Network Rail showed the delegates how his very large PMO has evolved over time - with over 4,000 projects and 1,800 project managers it has been a very interesting journey so far!

Huw talked about the complexity of having to bring governance to such a large project community and explained some of the challenges that his team faced such as having no strategy but a need for accurate information and governance to ensure real transparency to internal and external stakeholders.

The team set about getting to ‘one version of the truth’ using a change programme focused on data via system integrations and creation of reporting tools that would be used consistently. As a result, a PMO emerged that worked and flexed as the business changed into a project oriented organisation.

Chris Mills, Hi Q-Sigma discussed the benefits profile of the MoD Submarine Dismantling Programme and some of the challenges that they have faced and will continue to face for several years.

Emma Arnaz-Pemberton and Samantha Blunt from Office Depot spoke about the innovative way that they categorise their projects.
Going back to being pragmatic; the team devised a tool that allows anyone in the organisation to identify what kind of governance an initiative needs right from the start of its lifecycle and aligned the project type to animals. 

Why animals? It works in every language. Their presentation was followed by a short exercise to get delegates thinking outside of the box.

Finally Vanessa Randle from Thinking Visually taught the delegates how to draw and how drawing can be utilised in organisations for visual effect. 


 Overall the day was a success. The feedback from the delegates included an overall score of 4.6 for the day with 9 out of 10 people saying that they would recommend the day to others.

To see the Twitter feed for the day please click here.

The presentation slides are available below: 

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