May 2012 newsletter



Welcome to the latest edition of the Newsletter.

In this issue we take a look at portfolio management and the CMO and insights from PMO professionals & what they’re learning on the job. There is a round up from the PMO SIG and also 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

Lindsay Scott

Stay connected with the PMO SIG

Portfolio Management Insights

Last week I was fortunate enough to attend a workshop with Terry Doerscher on Building a High Performance Portfolio Management Initiative. Many of you might be aware of Terry from the PMO 2.0 survey and reports. He’s a great ambassador for PMOs so it was great for me to finally meet him.

There was loads of aha moments for me throughout the workshop and I’m going to share just two of those in this article.

Portfolio Process

As a basic framework for portfolio management within an organisation the workshop gave me a great helicopter view that I’d not really considered before. Let’s assume that organisations need to effectively manage change. When a new opportunity arises – perhaps a new product or new market share, this is called the Demand – it is opportunity in its rawest form. When a new demand comes around, the organisation needs to understand the Benefit it will provide should they decide to consider the demand. In order to do something with the demand, that has a benefit, the organisation has to have the Capacity to make the change. The organisation also needs to be sure that the Costs are managed because capacity will undoubtedly incur costs.

So where does project management come into this? Well project management processes are the part of the framework that take us from current state to future state. Whilst they are part of the framework it’s interesting to see just where PM fits in the whole framework.

Consider the Portfolio Process Map below (also available online) which is taken from the book, Taming Change by Terry. We can see the four corners of Demand, Benefit, Capacity and Cost. How we get from the Demand to understanding the Benefits through operational planning, investment analysis, work management etc. Running through the middle is the work management processes – or project management processes that will be familiar to all.

My first aha moment came when I considered where does the PMO fit in all of this. I’ve highlighted in red where I think the obvious areas are, and orange where it is possible the PMO already gets involved in organisations today. That leaves rather a lot of the framework without any PMO input, support, influence, help, whatever you think a PMO could and should be doing.

Now my thought is that actually PMOs don’t need to have their fingers in every part of the pie but I do believe that PMOs do need to understand the whole picture. I’m mixing metaphors but I hope others see that the PMO can be strengthened if they have the resource and intellectual capacity to understand business. Portfolio management moves us further away from project and programme delivery and into the realms of corporate and business management. To run and management a portfolio office, the team does need to understand performance management, how to compare investments, perform capacity gap analysis, measure benefits and balance the books. So my question is, how does the portfolio office spread its wings throughout the framework, providing services to underpin what a business needs to do to effectively manage change, not just within the project department but across the entire organisation?

Which leads me to another aha moment (it’s starting to feel very 80’s Norwegian pop group in here!)

The PMO becomes the CMO

I know we all have conversations and endless debates about what does PMO actually stand for and perhaps the CMO might make it easier in our profession in the future. CMO is simply “Change Management Office”. Think about it, the PMO’s job is to assist in enabling change in an organisation. Change starts to happen well before the PMO traditionally gets involved (see how far down the process we are in the portfolio map!) usually supporting the delivery mechanism of change. If the PMO is to spread its wings and support change before and after project execution, should we still be hanging our hats on the P part of PMO?

Portfolio Process Map

If the PMO really wants to add value to the organisation and ultimately to the people who matter – senior management – we really need to be thinking longer term about where portfolio management is heading; what supporting functions and services it is going to need and ultimately who is going to provide that. The CMO would be well placed to do just that.

Article written by Lindsay Scott – Marketing Manager, PMO SIG

What PMO Professionals Are Learning Everyday

At the Spring conference last month we asked our PMO delegates, “What was the last thing you have learnt in your job?”. In exchange for some really gems the question asked was actually part of our prize giveaways for the day – project management books by sponsors, Gower Publishing.

So what are some of our PMO professionals learning on the job?

It’s great to see any large collection of information in a word cloud*. Delivery, change, value, stakeholders and people are all up there but what about the context? Here are some of the answers from your peers

“What was the last thing you have learnt in your job?”


• A reluctant Project Manager assigned to the role by his manager can find 1000 excuses not to deliver.
• The right people make all the difference – quality rather than quantity.
• The importance of communication styles
• A quote from one of our PMO’s – ‘’Project Managers are not made of magic and no matter how hard you shake them, magic will not come out and fix the project.’’
• That people skills are vital for Project, Programme and Portfolio managers and PMO Managers of course.
• You need to amend you social style depending on the person you are communicating with.
• How to engage with a Project Manager who is reluctant to change his ways.
• That you can be unlucky in recruitment
• Patience and tolerance in helping non project people to deliver/change.
• To stick with your gut feelings and don’t buckle under pressure.
• That you can teach ‘old dogs’ new tricks.


• Cultural aspects greatly effect change and project delivery.
• The pressure added to project delivery by requirements for so much ‘paperwork’ (New to Change Manager Role)
• That project delivery processes must be continually enhanced and be relevant and useable or else people will find creati8ve ways to bypass them.

Tools and Skills

• The importance of shared information and the value of a framework to help drive business improvement.
• Sharepoint Skills
• We need to use Share Point better
• Benefits management prioritisation
• Comparative analysis in optioneering
• I researched project prioritisation and used the OGC tool to develop an in-home tool for the portfolio manager. Amazing – I said use it with our management team and they did


• The value of aligning PMO to the organisational strategy …. And that we ROCK!!
• Project Managers are happy for the PMO to take a canning for the Project Managers failings!
• I’ve recently joined the PMO so I have been learning about the processes, reporting of project health checks.
• Flexibility in applying a PMO to different organisations.
• PMOS aren’t all bad.
• Being a member of a PMO in its infancy I am constantly learning. In the last month the focus has been on the value we can offer to PMO’s rather than being a ‘governing body.’ Introducing agile into the Programme and Project Office. Agile Projects are new to our organisation, my role is to integrate agile with our current Prince2/PM way of working.
• We have really bloated processes
• Nothing is guaranteed! Funding, scope or commitment.


• There are still lots of organisations who need a PMO to do the basics, and even the basics can add significant value to the business
• To understand business areas in more detail so the PMO team can understand and support further.
• I learnt that there is still a way to go to demonstrate the value of the PMO and to improve perception of our role.


• Our Project Managers like to be told ‘how’ to do the project management fundamentals - i.e. Charters, Stakeholder Maps etc through the use of standardised templates; and the PMO adds value by coaching them through the templates. Good communication with stakeholders is key!
• How difficult is it to manage very different expectation from all stakeholders in our new PMO
• PMOs aren’t always popular! If you’re doing your job correctly; challenging decisions, risk tolerance, quality etc PMs may not like it… but if you do it in the right way they should respect it.
• Analysis has to be pitched at the right level to drive action from leadership team.
• Without Senior Management buy-in your efforts are futile.

Personal Insights

• Persistence pays off! Don’t give up if you know you are right.
• Patience!
• That Learning ‘’the book’’ doesn’t make you a Project Manager! Passed my Price Practitioner Cert but I am now looking for Practitioner experience.
• The challenge of cross functional working
• Some people really believe the only way to being a good project manager is to become certified in all PM technologies.
• The Key to doing the job well is doing the right job for you – one of the best personal development skills is harnessing self awareness and applying it to your daily tasks and your career development as a whole.
• To leave on time!

What have you learnt today? Come and join in the discussion on the LinkedIn group

*Word clouds are great little tools that can be used in a variety of ways – want to see if your latest PMO report has the language and crucial words you need to get the message across? Want to see if the latest PMO survey and feedback from stakeholders shows consistency? Want to know if your own CV or LinkedIn profile sums you up in the words you would expect? Take a look at the PMO Curator below for links to the free word cloud website as shown above.

PMO SIG Round Up

Last month saw the first Spring conference for PMO SIG since becoming part of the APM. It was the first time we’d held an AGM too. We had a great turnout of 120 PMO professionals and the website has now been updated with all the presentations and notes on the sessions.

PMO SIG Swap Shop

At the Spring conference we launched an idea based on the popular 70s Saturday morning kids programme. We basically wanted to help PMO professionals make connections with each other and also provide OFFERS or WANTS.

If you’re currently a member of the PMO SIG LinkedIn group, you can join the subgroup Swap Shop
Current OFFERS include; advice on project approvals, project prioritisation and a library of plans whilst WANTS include; advice on PMO metrics, to make contact with a good sized PMO and Sharepoint experiences.

Get involved and share your experiences with your peers.

Date for the Diary

28th June 2012
The PMO SIG will be at the Best Practice Showcase (APM International Showcase) which takes place in London on Thursday 28th June. If you’ve never been to one of these events it is well worth the time out of the office. It’s free to attend; it’s a great networking opportunity; there’s plenty of learning to be had through the “birds of a feather” sessions. This year there are also keynote speakers. Have a look at the website and register for free. The PMO SIG will be hosting a BoF session, so come along and lend your support!

We’re currently in the process of planning the Autumn conference and the dates will be available next month.

Local Meetings

We’re currently planning our next local meetings for London and Manchester; more details will be available next month.

PMO Curator

Each month we like to pick out some of the more interesting PMO related news from other sources. All neatly packaged, here are the picks for May, just click here

This month we take a look at:

• The Project Management Office
• PMO Dashboards… Without the Pain (requires login)
• Going Virtual in the PMO
• The All PMO Network (some free content)
• Portfolio Process Map
• The PMO in Operations (requires login)
• Create Your Own WordClouds with Tagxedo

Contact us if you’d like to share something of interest with the group

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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