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December 2014 newsletter


Welcome to the latest edition of the APM PMO SIG Newsletter.

In this month’s issue you can find out about our upcoming conferences, a round-up of what the PMO SIG has been up to and the latest news from around the industry.

If you have any comments on the newsletter or would like to contribute an article to a future edition, please contact us.

Stay connected with the PMO SIG

A word from the PMO SIG chair

It has been a while since the last PMO SIG newsletter was published and a lot has gone on!

I am sad to announce that Stuart Dixon, PMO SIG Secretary and former chair has stepped down from his duties as a committee member. Stuart has been involved with PMO SIG since the very beginning and has taken on a number of roles. His input and experience has been invaluable over the years and I and the team are sorry to see him go. Stuart has told us that he is happy to support us as a volunteer however, so I am sure that you will see him at some of our upcoming events! Thank you for your contribution and good luck in your next PMO chapter.

One out, one in as they say! I want to officially welcome Chris Mills to the team who joins us as a committee member from BMT Hi-Q Sigma. Chris has a wealth of experience in the world of PMO, project management, and presented at our May conference PMO in Practice.

This time of the year is busy in the world of APM. The SIG budgets have been prepared and are currently being reviewed by the SIG Steering Group. We have a number of events planned for 2015-16 so we will keep you informed when we have more information. We are also in touch with a few of our SIG counterparts (notably, the Planning, Monitoring & Control and Assurance SIGs) to see if we can continue to organise joint events.

Some of you may already be aware that our autumn conference has moved. We told you by email flyer and on our LinkedIn and Twitter feeds. The now termed PMO SIG Winter conference will be held in February. It is a two-day event focusing on PMOs and Technology. Check out the events section for more information – it would be great to see you there!

This year has already been a whirlwind of activity; with work on the Competence Framework, APM presents and personnel changes! I hope that the coming year will be even more exciting as we work harder to collaborate with our SIG counterparts and get more involved with moving the PMO industry forward.

If you want to get involved, please get in touch! You can find out more information on our volunteering section.

Lastly, it is that time of year after all. I would like to wish you a very happy PMO Christmas and New Year! See you on the other side...

Emma Arnaz-PembertonIf you feel that you can help to contribute to the PMO SIG as a volunteer for events, articles or simply getting chatting on LinkedIn – or if you have any questions, then please feel free to contact us.

Emma-Ruth Arnaz-Pemberton


APM Competence Framework refresh

PMO SIG get more involved

Over the last six months or so, the PMO SIG have been involved in the refresh of the APM Competence Framework. The team have successfully included some generic PMO roles with some basic role profiles to support them.

We believe that this will really help to move the PMO aspect of the project management industry forward. Currently we are expecting a publishing date to be announced around February so we can let all our members know to go and have a look!

We will keep you informed of progress.

LinkedIn hot topics
Some of our favourites from LinkedIn

The PMO SIG LinkedIn group recently had a flurry of activity – some controversial, some not! Here are some of the conversations we felt would be valuable if you could give your opinions/experiences.

Tailoring governance lifecycle to your organisation
Lauren Schogger, Programme Manager at Affinity Water
Interested in how to tailor some the governance lifecycle to work within your organisation? Lauren has asked the group for information and guidelines on how this has been done before.

How to Best Select your Top Ten Projects
Andrew Davis, IS PMO Manager at Severn Trent Water
Prioritisation of project is always an interesting topic because everyone does it differently. Why not let the group know how you decide what projects to start first?

Is it possible to deliver projects without a project manager?
David Rodgers, Senior PMO Professional
Manufacturing can transform raw materials into detailed and complex machines without a project manager, but instead, with defined and consistently monitored processes.

Balanced Scorecards for the PMO and Prioritisation
John Officer, Project Support Officer at Northern Ireland Water
Are there any measures that you use in your Balanced Scorecard for the prioritisation/selection of projects? What about any other pressure points?

Project Prioritization: What's in it for me?
Stuart Easton, CEO at TransparentChoice
Some PMOs don't see prioritization as part of their responsibility. Perhaps that's why more than 50% of projects out there are not aligned with strategy. But, getting the prioritization process right can do good things for the PMO themselves...and the business case for the organization is extremely compelling.

Heard about the PMO Manifesto? The PMO Manifesto was launched in 2014 and since then has been signed by over 120 practitioners. You can get involved, find out more and sign it here


PMO SIG volunteers
Are you interested in getting involved with the PMO Specific Interest Group?

Becoming a volunteer is very rewarding! With access to like-minded individuals, PMO SIG (and other) events and opportunities to drive the PMO industry forward, it can help to increase your knowledge and expertise and will do no harm to your personal career path!

You will need to commit some of your spare time when you volunteer to be a committee member, but there are plenty of things to get involved with of all shapes and sizes; from contributing to the newsletter to helping to develop best practice and organising events.

Becoming a committee member – Martin Straughan

Ever wondered what it is like being a committee member, but were scared to find out more? Martin Straughan, one of our new members gives an insight into why he joined.

I have been a member of the APM for a number of years whilst building my career as an IT project manager. However, in recent years I moved into a PMO role and my interest in PMO developed from there: I realised just what an impact a strategically aligned PMO can have upon an organisation and decided that this was a career-line within the PPPM space that I wanted to explore further. Naturally I looked for additional ways, other than through my job itself, where I could meet like–minded professionals and make a direct contribution to the profession. The PMO SIG offers just that and a lot more and I’ve been very impressed by all members of the team since joining a couple of months ago; there is a wealth of knowledge and experience across the team.

If all of that sounds like a lot of work, why do it?

To-date the benefits have really come from the contacts I’ve made directly in the PMO space. I had the opportunity to meet the rest of the committee at a face-to-face meeting in London during September where I learned all about how the SIG operates and upcoming work and events related to the profession - there is a lot of opportunity to get involved as the PMO Specific Interest Group is very active.
I would say to anyone to get in touch and have a chat. When I contacted the PMO Specific Interest Group they were extremely helpful and supportive and a few months later I was able to join the committee myself.

If all of this sounds like you then it starts with just one step, contact a committee member today to register your interest.

Want to check us out first?
Alternatively you can join as a member to receive news and information on PMO SIG.
Use the Link on the APM Website (you will need to login or register first) and clicking on the "Join this Group" button.

PMOSIG review

The Project Management Office (PMO) as a pop-up shop

Author Mertine Middelkoop
Publisher CreateSpace
ISBN 9781500144111
Pages 228
Price £24.44
Rating *****
Reviewer Stuart Dixon

Sometimes you read a book which makes you think “why hasn’t someone put this down before?”
There have been several of these books I have read thanks to the PMO SIG in the past, books like Programme and Project Support Office essentials by David Marsh; the P3O manual and the one I got to read last month - PMO as a pop up shop by Mertine Middlekoop. I met Mertine as part of the IPMA PMO SIGs Summit event, and she said that she had written a book in Dutch, which was being translated into English. I asked her for a chance to review this, to which she graciously agreed.

When I started to read it I realised that this was one of the books that was missing in my bookshelf. Something that would allow for the P3O manual to be brought to life. Whereas the P3O manual focuses on portfolio offices, most of the people I speak to on a regular basis are actually in a programme or project office. This book focuses on how those can be setup and run.

Mertine takes the concept of a PMO for a project or programme office but like a pop up shop, and needs to be run with the same precision that you would do for a business. Across all of the chapters she describes how this can be managed in a step by step process, giving examples from real world PMO setup, and linking it back to the pop up shop analogy.

In chapter 6 Mertine discusses the 10 steps that are required to setup your PMO, and references the very useful checklists in the appendices which can then be used to plan in more detail exactly how these steps can be achieved. As such this book is squarely aimed at those people wanting to setup a programme or project office.

However it is equally important for those people running a current office as in chapters 8, 9 and 10 Mertine takes us through the building blocks, the functions and services that a PMO can offer. Each one of those building blocks is clearly set out, with the same format for each of those functions and services. We start with an objective which clearly explains what you are trying to achieve from that service, something that is sometimes overlooked when delivering a PMO function. It then guides you through the steps required to set up that service with reference to any tool or technique that is useful when delivering the service, and what happens at PMO closure so that close down is also controlled, rather than just abandoning that service. Mertine discusses the risks involved if the service is not done, or not done correctly, which helps with the discussion about why the PMO should take on that task. Mertine then finishes with a worked example of how this function or service can work, often with a reference to a real project where this has been used. This provides the link between pure theory and the practical side of any PMO implementation.

As any good PMO person realises it is not all about the tools and the process, it is also about the people. So I was particularly grateful for 2 chapters that Mertine included on this. One which covers the relationship between the PMO and the project manager, which when read in conjunction with the appendix on induction checklists, explained the importance of the 2 roles working together rather than against each other, and the risks associated with poor performance (from both roles).

The other chapter that made me sit back and think was the one on PMO competencies and personal goals, especially in the light of the work that the APM PMO SIG has done recently to develop some PMO specific competencies. This chapter provides a framework by which a PMO individual can assess themselves and what direction they may want to pursue as a career, some thought provoking stuff.

Mertine finishes off with a small chapter on PMO passion and how important it is. To borrow a quote from the book "Passion is the fuel for success". It is the difference between doing a good job and doing a great job and the people I speak to in the APM PMO SIG are passionate about what they do, hopefully reading this book will ignite the passion that you have for the role as well.

Upcoming events and dates for your diary

We have selected some upcoming events that will be of use to PMO practitioners including our own Winter Conference!

Technology Enabled or Disabled. The pros and cons of using technology within the PMO
10th & 11th February 2015, Milton Keynes

The focus of the Autumn PMOSIG conference is to look the use of technology within PMOs and what are the critical success factors in ensuring the technology is an enabler rather than a disabler.

Delegates will hear from practitioners who use home grown and propriety products and the pros and cons of each. The conference will also include a couple of presentations from some proprietary products to talk of the challenges and successes of some of their clients.

Delegates will also be provided with the opportunity to share their own experiences and challenges.

Confirmed Speakers:

David Rodgers is currently working at Coventry Building Society as the Head of IT PMO, building a greenfield PMO. Originally starting in PMO as a step stone to become a project manager, David soon realised the project manager role wasn’t actually what he wanted to do and instead decided to remain in PMO. Since 2003, David has been treading the PMO boards in financial services and telecoms while working through each of the PMO disciplines, converging into a pragmatic and honest approach to PMO development.

David will be sharing the Coventry Building Society’s journey from zero to PMO in just over six months and the research and decisions they have made regarding tooling.

Non PMO SIG Hosted Events:

Back to basics - Earned Value Management for beginners
11th December, Webinar

The Planning, Monitoring & Control SIG are hosting this online webinar for anyone who is thinking about starting or has just begun a career in project controls and wants to know more about earned value. It will also serve as a useful reminder for anyone wanting to refresh their knowledge on earned value.

Project management careers and job fair
10th February 2015, London

If you'd like to learn more about recruitment from the other side - how to stand out, what employers are looking for and how they find the right candidates - then this event is for you. There will also be the opportunity to talk on a 1-2-1 basis with Wellingtone recruitment consultants, as well as the chance to see which roles Wellingtone are currently recruiting for.

Young PPM professionals new perspectives on old problems
25th February 2015, London

This event is aimed at professionals at the start of their career - ideal for PwC PPM senior associate community and APM associate members. The event aims to provide the opportunity to meet long standing PPM professionals in a relaxed environment and to learn from their experiences. The evening will provide attendees with the opportunity to hear about challenging 'real life' PPM experiences of some of PwC and APM's most experienced PPM practitioners.

PMO, Assurance & Project Success (Details to follow)
26th February 2015, Bristol

The PMO and Assurance SIGs are delighted to be working with the South Wales and West of England Branch to arrange a one day seminar looking at the benefits that PMOs and Assurance can offer project managers in the successful delivery of their projects.

The one day event will look at the role of PMO’s and assurance, the latest thinking and challenges, and case studies from which to draw lessons, hints and tips. The objective is for delegates understand the role and benefits that PMOs and assurance can offer them as project managers, and how they can use them to help successful project and programme delivery.

More information will be released soon, so keep your eyes open!

PMO SIG out & about

The Agile PMO
Stuart Dixon

As part of the PMO flashmob I went along to a talk given by Jennifer Stapleton the author of the agile PMO pocketbook. Jennifer has a background in agile having been involved with DSDM since its beginning 20 years ago (which on my estimation makes it older than PRINCE2).

In this session Jennifer talked us through what a PMO can do to support agile projects, rather than what makes a PMO agile.

There are various things that PMOs can do to support agile, including using some of their techniques when prioritising projects. Using a MoSCoW method for selecting which projects are more important, and this can be used on agile and non agile projects together as part of a portfolio role. Jennifer did suggest more than once that by selecting an agile project that would of course mean that benefits come earlier with the initial delivery from the agile project.

Jennifer discussed the sorts of things that a PMO may need to do differently when looking at an agile project, including reporting and gate reviews. These she said can still be done, but they would focus on different things, with the reporting looking at velocity and user engagement rather than focussing on a gantt chart and finances.
There were over 20 people present from different PMOs, not just those who were running a PMO with agile projects, but those people who were doing a project manager role and those people who were looking to find out more about agile.

Having received a copy of the pocket book that Jennifer I think it is a useful practical way of looking about how a PMO needed to change to be applicable to the agile world, giving actual examples of how some of the things that a PMO get asked to do can change for the better. In fact Jennifer said that actually having a PMO involved with an agile project was a benefit for the project.

Although Jennifer was unable to stay for the social at the local pub afterwards she was able to answer everyone's questions as part of the session.

The other thing that struck me was how some of the subjects that Jennifer mentioned about user engagement, focussing on what is important for the project rather than what is important for the PMO and having the PMO adapt to organisation style were important regardless of whether the organisation runs agile projects, non agile projects or a combination of both.

Making progress in an uncertain world webinar
Emma Arnaz-Pemberton

I attended the online webinar organised jointly by the Programme Management and Planning, Monitoring & Control SIGs in October.

The speakers discussed the traditional view of projects in terms of their scope and requirements but actually the real result is that many projects go through their whole lifecycle without certainty of the result. They talked about how we need to rethink our traditional view of the iron triangle (time, cost, quality) by adding contact and financing to make it more representative of the real world.

The prioritisation of requirements was talked about in terms of the MoSCoW analysis and how it can help to focus on areas that often get missed such as testing.

The summary at the end included some key points that people could take away:
- Make sure that perceptions are validated before starting
- Prioritise workload
- Do things right and do the right things
- Measure progress tangibly

You can read the official write up and listen to the webinar HERE

APM Presents
Emma Arnaz-Pemberton & Gary Mitchell

This year the APM hosted a one day session targeted at delegates who are relatively new to the project management profession. The objective of the day was to give delegates the opportunity to attend a number of sessions hosted by a number of SIGs to find out more about their work in the community and understand more about their specialism.

Each of the SIGs enjoyed three sessions, each with a different set of delegates. PMO SIG chose to bring the topic of the types of PMO to the table. As we all know, there is no one size fits all but we aimed to put more context around this particular challenge.

The day started off with an introduction from Nick Johns (SIG Steering Group Chairman) and Judy Payne (Knowledge SIG Chair) who provided a warm welcome and information on how the delegates could participate throughout the day.

As this was an event where delegates chose which sessions to attend, there was a slight competitive edge in the air which in turn provided a really energetic feel to the whole day.

One of the things that struck me was the number of young delegates – it was really great to meet so many people who are just starting on their project management journey.

As PMO SIG shared a room with the Benefits Management SIG we naturally got to see their presentation, which was filled with real life examples of where benefits management has been used successfully as well as where it was not necessarily utilised to its full potential.

As us PMO SIG guys are an inquisitive group, we took the opportunity to attend some of the other presentations and check out what our SIG counterparts were up to (some may say ‘checking out the competition’! – not me of course..).

The People SIG presentation was a very interesting discussion around the difference between coaching and mentoring. The key message taken away from that presentation was that you need to keep improving your own game. The team created a collaborative atmosphere with a ‘live interview’ session where delegates could ask questions of those members of the team who have either been coached/mentored in the past to gain some insight.

The day was topped off with a presentation from the Wellingtone MD, Vince Hines who provided an insight into how project management careers get kicked off in a sustainable way. The delegates got a feel for what the market is like and how they can improve their chances of success.

We are still waiting on feedback to be collated from the day but will let you know the official numbers when we have them!

APM Awards 2015
Emma Arnaz-Pemberton

This year the APM invited some members of the volunteer community to attend the APM Awards. I put my name forward and was selected to attend!

The Awards were held at the Hilton Park Lane, London and were hosted brilliantly. The judges did a great job, the winners were very deserving, and the evening was a complete success! Anyone that knows me, knows that I love any opportunity to network and meet like-minded people. I can say that this was definitely one of those evenings – I don’t think I have ever walked away with so many business cards!

As a result, the SIG is now in touch with lots of people (APM and non-APM) who we are planning to collaborate with in the future.

Comments and feedback

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