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What you need to know about PMOs

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Posted by Catherine Bendell on 3rd Oct 2017

For the first time ever, PMO SIG were invited by APM Scotland (Aberdeen chapter) to present at an evening event on 26 September, dedicated to PMO. Why? PMO is not a widely discussed topic in industry in the area. The chapter wanted to lift the fog on what a PMO is, and how it adds value.

Interestingly for me, the show of PMO hands in the room were counted on one hand, The rest of the audience were project managers or students who either had no experience of a PMO, or worse had a negative experience. Challenge accepted! I told the audience that ' I was there to challenge their perception of PMO’ and after a brief history of the PMO itself and some content on what a PMO is there to do, two things happened.

  1. Perceptions were indeed challenged - and several people spoke to me about their negative experience and how different what I suggested PMO should be is in comparison to their reality.
  2. It also transpired that those that believed at the start that they had no experience of working alongside a PMO actually had, but just not in the way we are typically used to.

It led to a great discussion on whether PMO needs to be a function or departmental entity or not. I would say no.

Like the industries in the room including Siemens, the local authority and several energy institutions, as long as you have the skills disseminated in the organisation you have a PMO. What you cannot do is try to treat it like a functional PMO. This model needs a different approach - one that acknowledges the skills and where they 'rightly' sit in the organisation and creates a community around them. Imagine the insights and value to be gleaned from bringing those people with their key specialisms, together with those delivering the change.

So do not fret if you do not have a PMO dedicated in a room that is easy to locate. Find out where these key specialists are, and leverage your community to bring the best of change to your change initiatives.

To find out more about how PMOs operate differently, join us at our annual conferences in London on October 19: The PMO Goes Hands On.

Emma-Ruth Arnaz-Pemberton

A copy of the presentation can also be viewed on the APM Slideshare page.

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