December 2013 newsletter


Welcome to the latest edition of the APM PMO Specific Interest Group quarterly newsletter.

Our chairman Stuart Dixon talks about the PMO SIG in 2013 and the changes it has gone through.

You can meet one of our volunteers, keep up to date with the APM Competence Framework Review, check out a book review from the Chairman and upcoming events, including our 2014 Spring Conference.

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

Emma Arnaz-Pemberton

Stay connected with the PMO SIG:

A word from the PMO SIG Chairman
.Stuart Dixon
Christmas is always the point in the year when one can reflect on what has happened during the year and to look forward to what the new year has to bring. In the PMO SIG, this has been a year of change, with a few of our long standing committee members standing down at the AGM, and a few new ones joining us. We have a couple of new events to look forward to, with the world cafe events being organised in London and Manchester, hopefully these will deliver the sort of alternative view on the whole events scene that the SIG has been known for. In 2014 we have a couple of one day events planned in March and May and this will see the SIG start to do some work in expanding the APM Body of Knowledge.

I want to thank those people who offered their services to assist with the updates to the APM Competence Framework via Linked In. Even if you were unavailable for this round, then there is still the follow-up review sessions that we will need assistance with. Keep an eye on the Linked In group to hear about the latest requests for your time. I do want to publicly thank Emma Peleshok and Chris Mills who took time (2 days) out of their day jobs to come and help the SIG with the APM Competence Framework sessions, it was great to have the SIG represented, and to know that across the SIG we have experts we can call on to help us develop content on behalf of both APM and the SIG.

In recent months we have seen the refreshed P3O guide come out, authored by one of our committee members – Eileen Roden. What I would now like to see is that all job adverts for PMO staff start to have either P3O as an essential or a recommended qualification, in order that we can start to be recognised as the profession we are. Eileen’s thoughts on the refresh can be found on the APM website Blog.

A PMO SIG event “Assurance and PMO” is being held in March 2014. To find out more check out the PMO SIG Events in this newsletter.

Finally I want to wish all SIG members a good new year, and hoping that your PMO gets the recognition and status it deserves in 2014.

Stuart Dixon  
SIG Chairman

APM Competence Framework review

Following on from the call for volunteers I posted on Linked In asking for people to contribute time to the refresh, we managed to get a PMO SIG attendee at each event. My thanks once again to Emma Peleshok and Chris Mills for their time and commitment.

So what did they do with their time in London? Each of the sessions went through a similar process; one looked at project management, one at programme management and the third at portfolio management. Running through each of those sessions was the impact of the PMO and the role of the PMO in each of these. I know we have people in our SIG who support all of these areas, not necessarily at the same time.

One of the themes coming out of each of these session was really how valued the PMO is, a recognition that in order to really help an organisation you want your most experienced people doing these roles, and that some of the competencies will be different for a PMO than a project manager, programme manager or portfolio manager, which recognises that PMOs are offering support to those roles. One of the things that I suggested was the need to have a slightly different scale when assessing the experience that a PMO has.

For example a PMO may be able to do something, and may advise and train others to do that, but due to organisational reasons may not actually do that themselves. So it ought to be recognised in the scoring. The other thing that came up was to recognise the outcome rather than just the activity, so rather than I can do this, it becomes, I can do this with a positive impact on the organisation e.g. if you were a striker and you scored a goal, it does matter whether it is yours or the opposition goal that the ball goes into, however both would be recognised as the activity of scoring a goal.

The next steps in this process are for the team working on this to go away and write-up a summary of all 3 sessions, which will be passed back out to those people who attended before Christmas, for feedback by early January to ensure that they have the correct understanding of what was said.

The team will then go away and create the detail of what will be in the framework and this will go out for review in February. When it does there will be another call for volunteers from the SIG to review this, and this will be posted on Linked In.

If you want to know more, then please contact me pmosig@apm.org.uk (or via Linked In)

LinkedIn hot topics

Registered Project Professionals

The APM's Registered Project Professional was named and structured for project, programme, portfolio and PMO professionals. Are there (m)any PMO professionals who have achieved RPP?
No responses were received to this question which begs the question – do we have any RPP people out there or are people not getting involved because it isn’t seen as relevant to them.

Lessons Learned

What are the top lessons learned that should be applied to all projects and programmes?
How do you manage your Lessons Learned? What are your experiences of generic lessons? Give your peers some of your best practice for running projects and programmes.

Lost in PMO Land

Asking for help and advice on PMO can read great results so get involved with PMO SIG!


In each of the PMO SIG Newsletters, we will be introducing you to one of the team so you can get to know their background and areas of expertise.

This month we asked Andrew Taylor, PMO, Programme & Project Manager to tell us a bit about himself.

What is your current role?

I am currently working as a PMO lead/project Manager on a global IT infrastructure refresh programme in the financial services sector.

Tell us a bit about your professional background

I originally started off many years ago as an EDP Trainee (Electronic Data Processing - yes I am that old!) with the Department of Health in New Zealand fresh out of high school. I returned to the "mother country" from the colonies (via Australia) & have developed from IT programming & analysis, into project management, change management supplemented with PMO work.
I decided that I needed to enhance my underpinning of the theoretical side of project and programme management and so the Open University MBA was started & finished.
Since then, I have been contracting for over ten years and have worked on diverse projects & programmes in several different industry sectors with the bulk of assignments being in the Financial Services Sector. I continue to develop and enhance my skills, my experience and my network and I feel confident enough to contribute to the next level by working with the APM PMO SIG.

Why PMO?

Working in PMO's (or P3O's to use the new umbrella acronym) allows me to work across portfolios to projects, strategy to the "doing" aspects of projects. Intertwined with people, methods, tools, creativity, etc ..... Never a dull moment!

Any PMO hints & tips?

Have a core tool set that works for you and the people you have worked for, flexing & adapting as the situation and life cycle stage of the portfolio/programme/project evolve delivering maximum impact for minimal effort.
If you put yourself in the various stakeholders shoes, reviewing and analysing from their perspective. This will not only assist you in developing a holistic perspective on the programme/ initiative/ project, but it helps you build strong working relationships with those stakeholders.
What do you enjoy in your spare time?
I enjoy sport although finding the time for actively participating is challenging. However; I have been heavily involved in coaching & managing Worcester Wanderers RFC junior teams over the last five years. In addition I have am actively a squash player & coach.
As well as sport, music, philately, collecting antique prints & maps and reading (specifically science fiction).

Tell us.....

Something people might not know about you:

I am a qualified bricklayer & carpenter. I have never practised professionally but have built an extension on our current house.

Something you love:

Seeing people use something that I have developed and coached them in (e.g rugby players, squash players, PMO/Project management people). Very rewarding to see that I can and have made a difference in peoples lives. A big driver in my professional and personal life.

Something you hate:

Political 'animals' in companies and on projects who are all self/self/self!

PMOSIG review

Handbook of people in project management                


Dennis Lock and Lindsay Scott



ISBN: 9781409437857

Book Length:

908 pages





I was lucky enough to get a review copy of this book as Lindsay Scott was one of the committee members of the APM PMO SIG until she stepped down at the last committee meeting. I know that she had been spending her time working on getting this book into print. Dennis Lock is a recognised author and editor in his own right, having edited the book on project management considered by some to be one of the definitive textbooks on the matter.

This book is vast in the scope that it is trying to cover, as it is looking at the people side of project management, as it has been discussed often via the APM PMO SIG, there is the triangle of people, process and tools, and this covers the people side.
At 908 pages, and 63 chapters, divided into 6 sections, it certainly seems to cover all of the things I would expect to see in a book around people in project management, and then some. I don't think that there is anything that has been mentioned to me in my 20 years of working in a project environment that is not covered in the book (at least from a people perspective).
Although each of the chapters is written by a different person, they all, with one exception have a common style. Each chapter starts with an introduction, cover their points and follow up with a conclusion and then a bibliography so you can have the follow on reading into any of the details required.
The book is divided into 6 major sections on management and organisation, people in and around the project organisation, improving project teams and their people, developing the individual, project staffing and HRM issues, and more specialised topics. This structure provided a logical way of linking the chapters together.

The first section on management and organisation, was a more general contextual discussion on projects and programmes, different organisation types (private, public and voluntary sectors) and the people you find in them as well as the different ways to organise projects vs business as usual I.e. Functional vs matrix, local vs international, lots of small projects vs large projects and their workstreams.
It was interesting to see the number of times that PMO came up in the chapters as an enabler to make the people in the organisation work together, to explain the process and tools, to act as the organisational knowledge holders on project management.

From reading the first section, even if I didn't know anything about project management when I started, I would by the end of the section have a good understanding of the issues that face people who want to go into project management, or want to work in a project environment.

The second section covered people in and around the project environment. This is where is talked about project stakeholders, the role of the PMO, the importance of office space in aiding or preventing communication, with an interesting history lesson in the use of office space and architecture, as well as a look forward to how an office environment of the future may look, taking into account some of the current technologies which allow for instantaneous communication between people in different countries.
Part three was for me the main heart of the book as that is talking about improving project teams and their people. This guided you through setting up a project team, managing the conflict that inevitably ensures when you mix people together, through to leading successful teams. I particularly liked the chapter which discussed the day in the life of a project manager. I would recommend that as a good read for anyone who aspires to be a project manager, and for those people who are project managers, I would recommend the day dream sequence.

This brought in some of the different theorists that have studied people and project management over the years, and it found myself being surprised by how few of them there really are with Maslow, MBTI, Hertzberg, Belbin, Pareto being brought up across these and other sections of the book.

The chapter I did struggle with in here was the ethics chapter, not because I don't have any, but because I struggled to see the relevance back to the project world, and the clear advantage this would have. I also thought the chapter on conduct of meetings was possibly placed in the wrong section as it either needed to go into the first or the last section of the book. However it did cover some useful practical advice.
The fourth section covered developing the individual. The focus of this section was all about me, and how improving oneself, one could become a better project manager and how you could mentor and improve others. It covered some of the differences between learning and training, and how you develop your own personalised learning development programme. This fits nicely into the continuing professional development approach taken by the APM.

The fifth section on project staffing & HRM issues covered resource planning, recruitment, pay, termination with a chapter on temporary staff. This section would be useful for anyone who has tried to get people into and out of an organisation in the UK to work on projects, because although the authors of these chapters did try to give it a more generic feel, the specifics were linked into the UK job market. The chapter on recruitment was particularly enlightening as it explained why it can take so long to recruit someone, and what the pitfalls are along the way.

The final section was on the in depth topics that didn’t naturally fit into the other sections, which included chapters on neuro linguistic programming, psychology, emotional intelligence, social networking & project management, career paths, hero project managers, stress, spirituality.

This for me was the pick and mix section of the book, quite a few of these chapters interested me, however others I could take or leave, so I would recommend that people dipped into these chapters as applicable across their career rather than read from top to bottom. However the chapters on hero project managers and career paths are must reads.

Overall I thought that this was an excellent reference book and one I could see myself dipping into again and again. This isn’t really a book to be sitting down and reading in one go. However it is light enough for each chapter that you can gain enough information to be fully conversant on the particular subject, but if you want to follow it through and get a more detailed understanding then by following the bibliography for each section then that is possible.

So who is this book for? Well I would say that this book is aimed at the project manager who is a few years into their career and has run a few projects already, and is wanting to put onto a more firm footing how to get projects to run in their organisation. It is also for anyone who works with people in a project environment and wants to improve themselves so that they can work in a more successful team.

PMO SIG events

Upcoming events and dates for your diary

In addition to the below dates for your diary, a local Cheltenham event will be scheduled for quarter four 2013 featuring a discussion around PMO and the role of assurance – keep an eye out for an email direct from APM with more information.

Dates for your diary

PMO World Cafe - 4th December 2013,  London

PMO World Cafe - 23rd January 2014, Manchester

QA P3O winter events

Learning Solutions experts QA are hosting a series of webinars and a summit, which will provide participants with an insight into the practical application of P3O best management practice.
The events will all be hosted by Eileen Roden, lead author of the recently published 2nd Edition of the 'P3O Best Management Practice'. Check out the QA website to register for an event.

• Assurance and PMO Wednesday 5th March 2014

This Cheltenham event will cover the subject of assurance and its role within the PMO. There will be a series of presentations setting out the role of assurance from our APM Assurance SIG and then presentations from various business sectors including the security sector, energy, education and central government revealing how PMOs provide, or link in with, the assurance function.

• Spring conference: The practical PMO - 15th May 2014 Solihull

The practical PMO conference is planned as a one-day event which will follow on from our 2013 conference; PMO Assets by translating some of the theory into practice.

Feedback from you following the 2013 conference showed us that you want practical support that can really make a difference to your day-to-day PMO world.

The PMO SIG has defined the day around some of your key challenges:
- Benefits realisation and how it is linked to engagement
- Categorisation and definition of projects
- Selling the idea of PMO to your business leaders and how they subsequently add value

PMO SIG thoughts

IT Project Management has come a long way since PRINCE was first introduced in the 1980’s, however most of the reasons for project failure have remained constant, poor user requirements, stakeholder management, etc, so why when project management is supposedly only an articulation of common sense do we seem unable to grasp it?

Perhaps we have come to a point where we should start trusting our common sense more and relying on project management methods and project managers less. I am struck by the idea of shared space promoted by Hans Monderman a Dutch traffic engineer and its experiments in towns such as Drachten:

Imagine what would happen if you took down road signs and traffic signals. More accidents would surely result, or at least significant confusion and slower traffic. Or would it? The surprising thing is that a number of cities around the world have actually done this, and experienced dramatic declines in traffic accidents.
The idea is based on an urban design philosophy known as “shared space.” When drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists are forced to develop their own natural ways of interacting with each other, goes the thinking, they work out better social behaviours than the rule-driven behaviours dictated by professional traffic engineers. This does not mean an abandonment of design considerations, but rather a commitment to the larger public space designs instead of overly prescriptive traffic control devices such as traffic lights, signs and road markings.

So if we assume a maturity that accepts we know how to drive (deliver a project, manage people) we only need a sign which tells us directions and distances (project objective) and we can get by without all the signs telling us what to do and when; the need for risk management, plans, issue logs, comms plans, stakeholder plans, project boards, business cases, highlight reports, exception reports, etc. It feels like a new project management best practice is required that provides a project management environment design which is less about method and more about personal responsibility and collaborative working.

Thoughts? What would your personally responsible project delivery environment look like? Conversations have already started on LinkedIn so get involved!

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.

Your contribution will be invaluable so please contact us to see if you can help!

PMO SIG Curator

For each publication, we like to pick out a selection of PMO related news and interesting media from other sources and neatly package them so they are easy for you to locate.

Take a look at this month’s selection by clicking here which include:

  • Download the Arras people2013 Project Management Benchmark Report
  • Why project management in IT is more important than ever
  • Successful EPMA inaugural conference
  • Ferma 2013: Ferma members agree to certification project
  • Canada Health Infoway’s portfolio management office wins 2013 PMO of the year award
  • Why project managers need assessment-led recruitment
  • A world where all projects succeed needs a culture change
  • The challenges that you look forward to most within project management


Comments and feedback

The PMO SIG would appreciate any comments or feedback you have on our newsletter – let us know whether it was useful, and what you’d like to see in future editions. Email the newsletter editor.



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