February 2014 newsletter


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

In this months issue check out progress of the Competence Framework review and information about our spring conference. Also 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

Emma Arnaz-Pemberton

Stay connected with the PMO SIG

A word from the PMO SIG Chairman

I hope that you all had a good Christmas (even if that seems so long ago now) and are prepared for the challenges that 2014 will bring. I started the New Year by attending the PMO SIG world café event in Manchester. It was great to have a discussion with fellow practitioners and increase my knowledge of what a difference the PMO can make to the world of project management. As a SIG we want to put on a few local events this year, so join the discussion on LinkedIn and suggest what you would like to see us do, and where we should visit. After all, the suggestion for world café came from one of our members.

At our recent committee meeting we discussed the national events that we have planned for 2014. We have the event in March on Assurance and its relationship with the PMO in Cheltenham, and the May event in Solihull, the PMO in Practice, which goes to the heart of what most SIG members I talk to are interested in – "How does it really work?"

The event in Solihull includes our AGM, which is the time for people to be able to stand as committee members. I was delighted to welcome 2 new committee members last time, and there is always room for some more, so look out for more information nearer the time if you want to contribute to the running of your SIG. With more committee members we will be able to put on more great events for you.

Looking further afield, we have been contacted by a member of one of the organisations affiliated to the IPMA (International Project Management Association) looking to organise a workshop in June for PMOs across the world, in particular Europe, Asia and Australia. I feel that finally PMOs have come of age when the PMO SIG is able to host an international event. This year’s one will have a limited attendance as we are laying the groundwork for future setups, but expect to see a report in the newsletter as to how we can make this bigger and better in future years.

Of course I haven’t mentioned the work that the SIG is doing in reviewing the APM Competence Framework and to improve the BoK. All of this can’t be done by the committee alone, as great as they are, so when you see a request for help then please stand up and be counted, who knows where it might take you.

Stuart Dixon  
PMO SIG Chairman

APM Competence Framework review

Stuart Dixon

In the last newsletter I gave an update on what has happened so far. Over the Christmas period the team from the APM have been busy working on producing a draft of the new APM Competence Framework, which will cover not only project, like the current one, but also programme, portfolio and PMO. They plan to do this as one framework, rather than one for each, which sounds good as people look to move through the different disciplines, as they are very much related.

The draft framework is now out for review and can be found here. Please follow the guidance included on the website to ensure that any feedback you have is received before the deadline of 7th March.
After the review period they will get the comments back and look to incorporate these into the framework. Eileen Roden from the committee is included in the review. That means 4 different people from the PMO SIG have been directly involved in this review, plus of course any of you who send in your comments on the framework that has been published.
I have also been in talks with the APM on further steps linked into the framework, as the APM, supported by the PMO SIG want to publish some generic role profiles for the different PMO roles along with a career path. So what I would like is to receive as many different role profiles for your roles with your PMO, along with some idea about the career structure for your organisation.

Please send these to me by the end of March

LinkedIn hot topics
Some of our favourites from LinkedIn


The Events you want to see..

After the last PMO meeting at Manchester - we always ask on the feedback form what you'd like to see as future potential topics.
Let us know what kind of topics you would like to discuss in a future event.

Does a PMO need to be PMP certified?

With 57 comments so far this has turned into one of the busiest debates on LinkedIn!

Pitch in your thoughts; does a PMO need to hold PMP (or any other) accreditation to be successful and credible in their organisation?

Who is the responsible in an organisation for training the PMs? Should it be the PMO?

For functional or mixed organisations, who senses the need for project managers to be trained in the methodology of projects?

This topic is quickly gaining more momentum. Who is charged with the capability of your project managers and their teams? What pitfalls have you found through your experience of using internal PMO versus L&D versus an external supplier? Do you have a view on the way forward?

and for a bit of fun!..
A Conference Call in Real Life

Ever wondered what a conference call would look like if everyone was in the same room?
If you have missed this short video, take a look and share it!

PMOSIG review

Project reviews, assurance and governance


Graham Oakes


Gower, 2008










Eileen Roden

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/410EnbdGBYL._.jpgAs the PMO SIG Assurance and PMO event is coming up on 5th March, what better time to review literature about that very subject. Eileen Roden reviewed the project reviews, assurance and governance for us.

The Author
Graham Oakes is an experienced practitioner who now provides strategic independent consulting and mentoring, helping organisations to deal with the ambiguity and uncertainty that surrounds major business initiatives. He is active on Twitter (@GrahamDOakes) and is a regular speaker at conferences.  A number of his presentations are available here.

The Book

The premise of the text is that good project management itself is not enough to successfully deliver projects, as even the best project managers find it difficult to constantly keep abreast of all the information available about their project to see everything that is going on (and what needs to be done).  It is argued that effective reviews and assurance helps project managers understand what is really going on.  

The book provides a structured look at the different types of reviews, a process model for reviews, a pragmatic approach to undertaking a review, getting people to act following reviews and finally, some of the challenges that may need to be addressed when setting up structured reviews within an organisation.  The book also has a comprehensive set of case studies that clearly show how reviews work in the real world, some of the challenges faced and helpful approaches to overcome them.

The book provides good guidance on the role of PMO in reviews, assurance and governance, recognising the various dimensions of a PMO and the different positions it can sit within the organisation.  It takes time to look at the potential areas of conflict and the need for a level of independence which sometimes cannot be provided by the PMO.

What I found particularly interesting was the governance matrix (which I hadn't seen before).  The matrix plots decision type (steer, manage or execute) against the scope of the decision (set direction, implement or assure).  I think this is an excellent tool to identify and articulate the role of the PMO.

I found the book very easy to read, got some practical hints and tips about reviews and it made me think in more detail on PMO's role in governance.

Bonus: If you purchase your copy from Graham's website you can get a signed copy and the author's discount.

PMO SIG events

Upcoming events and dates for your diary

In addition to the dates below for your diary, the PMO SIG and some of its volunteers have been getting involved in the Competence Framework Review. You can read more about this above.

Dates for your diary

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 security, energy, education and central government revealing how PMOs provide, or link in with, the assurance function.



• PMO SIG Spring conference: PMO in practice 15th May 2014

This year’s spring conference is planned as a one-day event to be held in Solihull which has been designed to follow on from our 2013 conference; PMO Assets. It will translate some of the theory into practical tools and advice that delegates can take away and implement.

Some of the topics we will cover in this conference include how to categorise and identify projects and how to show the PMO adds value in an organisation.
It will soon be available to register so keep your eyes peeled for updates!

PMO SIG thoughts..

PMO Volunteer, Chris Armstrong - Project Management Officer

The PMO and the Politician
It is well known that the Office for Government Commerce is/was a leading advocate of project management methods, but how do politics and the PMO mix in practice?
There have been plenty of stories in 2013 focusing on the Department for Work and Pensions’ welfare reforms and one of the underlying issues has been the project management approach used to implement the reforms. I don’t want to comment on the DWP’s approach, but whatever the project, operating a PMO in a politicised environment presents specific problems.
Firstly, PMOs are vulnerable to political change; whether it is caused by a re-shuffle or an election, a change of political leadership can leave a dynamic programme floundering. Secondly, politicians are sensitive to views of the electorate and to the media. Especially in the run up to an election, when programmes that once seemed fundamentally unstoppable can swiftly find themselves frozen in time. So, what to do?
If your PMO is working within or for a government organisation the political climate can have a major impact on your projects. Your sponsoring group needs to be clearly defined and elected politicians are key stakeholders who need to be actively consulted. Unfortunately, in many cases there are effectively two sets of sponsors: the senior executives and the elected members. The PMO needs executive support to enable projects, but political approval is also critical to the success of the PMO.
If your PMO is working for or with a political organisation, then you may have some interesting challenges ahead. Will your PMO be affected by the elections in 2014 and 2015, or maybe the referendum on Scottish independence? And if so, are you prepared?

Thoughts? Are non-government organisations affected in the same way - what about the elected board members and shareholders? 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 good practice and organising events.

Become a committee member – Stuart Dixon
Ever wondered what it is like being a committee member, but were scared to find out more?

Well that sounds like me a few years ago. I took the plunge to become a committee member, and over the last few years I have done a variety of roles including Secretary and now Chair. So what’s involved and what would you be expected to do?

Well to get elected to the committee you need to put in a personal statement which explains why in a few paragraphs you would be suitable, so that the members know who they are voting for. If you are successful then you would need to be able to commit some time to committee meetings – we have a voice call for an hour most months, and a couple of face to face meetings in the year (so allow a day for that). We put on local and national conferences throughout the year so you will be expected to help with those - we do share this around so it isn’t just one person on their own. If we are doing a local conference then you may be the host for the evening. After a year in the committee you get to have the chance to be elected Chair or Secretary.

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

Well since I have joined the committee I have got the chance to speak at events both local and national (I even represented the PMO SIG at the APM Scottish Conference). I get to speak to lots of people across many different sectors who are all equally as passionate about their role in the PMO as I am. I learn so much from talking and listening to others. I get the opportunity to contribute to the future of the profession, such as the work the SIG is doing with the BoK, and the Competence Framework at the moment, which enables me to share my knowledge and experience. I get to work with some of the most experienced PMO people on the committee (we calculated we have over 100 years of experience between us), and speak to the movers and shakers in the profession whenever we arrange a conference.

If all of this interests you then all it starts with one step, contact a committee member today, and submit your application for the AGM in May.

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:

  • Project Management Institute announces funding opportunities for teachers, researchers
  • ESI International Releases Top 10 Trends in Project Management
  • The Cloud Enables Efficient Project Management
  • Agile Project Management Lessons Learned From Texas Hold'em
  • Surviving Disasters in Project Management: An Interview with Dr. Harold Kerzner
  • Fujitsu Systems West Partners with Realization to Offer Project Management Software as a Service in Japan

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.


Association for Project Management
Ibis House, Summerleys Road
Princes Risborough
Bucks, HP27 9LE

t: 0845 458 1944
f: 0845 458 8807
e: info@apm.org.uk
w: www.apm.org.uk