PMO's - The importance of communicating "the point of you"

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Posted by APM on 1st Apr 2016

Last week I spent the day at the Programme Management SIG conference: Equipping Programme Managers for Global Success.

The line-up of speakers was varied and they really brought new perspectives to the floor. I took an awful lot away from Bruno Kahne’s 'What Programme Managers can take and learn from the Deaf World' presentation. I love learning about how people tick so this talk was of particular interest – especially learning that we deal with 400,000 words per day – no wonder we sometimes don’t feel like we get anything done!!

Despite getting the ‘before lunch’ lunch spot, everyone stayed alert for my overview of how PMOs can support programme managers and their programmes to succeed and become partners.

There was a raising of hands when I asked the question “how many of you work with, alongside, for, or have been hamstrung by a PMO?”. The expected snigger of recognition rippled across the room as delegates sat back and thought about what (little) their PMOs do for them.

What’s interesting about PMO’s is that they can support programmes (and projects) in lots of different ways. The PMO SIG committee’s theory is that there are four distinct roles that PMOs can play:

Operational, controlling, supporting, and directing. 

During my slot I explained each of the four types, and how they are able to support them in their programme and projects. Sometimes in new and innovative ways.

You can see the slides HERE or listen to the podcast HERE. 

Towards the end of the slot, the Q&A turned to the benefits of a PMO, where I recalled a story of a new director coming on-board and asking “what’s the point of you?”

My advice to all those who work in PMOs to be ready for this question, and make sure you can answer it in a simple and precise way (as I learned from Bruno), that is clear to whomever asked the question – don’t use project speak!

There are ways that PMOs can facilitate and support your business that you may not have thought about, so if you work alongside a PMO don’t be scared to challenge them; if you work in a PMO, don’t be scared to look in the mirror and challenge yourself.

The days of dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s are well and truly gone!

If you want more information on PMOs and our theories, you can join PMO SIG and receive our newsletter quarterly on our APM microsite HERE.

Emma-Ruth Arnaz-Pemberton, ERAP Consulting Ltd & APM PMO SIG

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