PMO Masterclass - Project reviews, asssurance and the PMO

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Posted by APM on 17th Dec 2012

Around 60 people attended the first APM PMOSIG local evening event to be held in Manchester on 12th December. The PMOSIG’s Lindsay Scott introduced the Masterclass on “Project reviews, asssurance and the PMO”, hosted by Graham Oakes, independent complexity consultant and author of “Project Reviews, Assurance and Governance”.

APM PMO SIG - project review simulation from grahamoakes

The session included an interactive, table-based “scale model” simulation of a 3 day project review of a major £20m IT implementation project, condensing the 3 days into 1 hour. The review teams decided what areas of investigation they wanted to pursue, and Graham would provide the salient points from the various conversations with key project personnel and reviews of key project documentation.

This enabled the review teams to build up a thumbnail sketch of the project’s failings and their causes. The simulation concluded with each table summarising their findings, followed by a Q&A session with Graham.

The exercise did a good job of simulating the hectic schedule and information overload that can be a hallmark of a large project review. Graham touched on a number of practical tips to consider if you are ever involved in a project or programme review, and stressed the important role an effective PMO can play in creating a review-oriented PPM culture as well as directly supporting effective project or programme reviews themselves.

The PMO can, for example, help compile guidance for the different emphases required for the different stages of the project and programme lifecycle, and is well placed to use the review process to develop a wider view of some of the more organisational-level recurrent problems and trends. The PMO can then help develop and embed these improvements in organisational standards and review checklists. Standardised documentation can help the review team get up to speed quickly, and ultimately make it easier for the reviewers (and the organisation) to get a clear view of the project status.

Some of Graham’s tips also included being realistic about the amount of time and effort it can take to fulfil even the more administrative aspects of arranging and running reviews, such as arranging meetings in diaries and booking meeting rooms, with the PMO potentially acting as the interface between external review groups who may not have access to the internal booking systems.

As with anything that the PMO could be called upon to do, the quality of the reviews they carry out will improve with practice, so it can also be worthwhile to define some way to monitor the effectiveness of the review processes themselves, and feed this back into the lessons learned process.

In summary, this was an enjoyable and informative session in a great venue. The PMOSIG would like to thank Graham and the MMU Business School for their hospitality. 

Please get in touch if you have any suggestions for future local events in Manchester or elsewhere in the North West. We are also always on the look out for new venues, so please let us know if you or your organisation would be interested in hosting a local PMOSIG evening event.

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