Are you proud about what your PMO has achieved?
That’s the first step in taking part in something like APM’s PMO of the Year Award – you need to proud of your achievements and be ready to share the story with the wider industry and community.
I caught up with Justin Byrd who has done just that. Justin is a great PMO Flashmob supporter – he’s also the Head of the EMEIA Portfolio Office (EPO) at Fujitsu, the IT Technology and Services organisation.
The EPO has a story to tell and one which highlights not only why they could be worthy winners of the Award in November, also what can be achieved in four years.
The EPO has journeyed from an administrative support function into a PMO which consistently adds real tangible value to the PPM function and to the wider business. The drive towards becoming a finalist for the Award has stemmed from taking that time to recognise the achievements of all 211 PMO professionals that make up Fujitsu’s PMO service and as a way to benchmark the PMO externally.
If Fujitsu want to provide world-class services to clients, the Award enables the PMO team “to put their money where their mouths are” and really show they have a world-class PMO on their hands.
The EPO is a portfolio office structure – heavily aligned to P3O’s hub and spoke model – which includes programme and project offices across different regions in EMEIA – Europe, Middle East, India and Africa. To give that further context, there are 23 spoke PMOs supporting 50 clients across 5 countries. The whole PPM community is around 800 people – the PMO consists of around a quarter of those.
In the past the PMO function was seen very much as an administrative supporting function – doing adhoc bits of support and working through very repeatable processes. They knew that PMO could offer much more capability than that – and the wider business and clients would certainly benefit from services that would “add value” to the engagement.
Business transformation in the last two years has also impacted the PMO journey as the move from country level governance and control rolled up to the EMEIA level.
So where is the EPO today?
Generalist and Specialist PMOs
Fujitsu still retain an Administrative Service function where those adhoc, repeatable process based services are still offered within the business but it is no longer part of the PMO.
What it does offer to the PMO is the next generation PMO staff. This is one of the areas where new Project Co-ordinators – with the right training, development, mentoring and support can move into a project-based role.
This is the beginning of a very career focused approach to developing the PMO which the EPO has developed over the years. From a starter role of Project Co-ordinator there are two options available – remain in PMO or develop down the delivery route.
Project Co-ordinators get good grounding in both the PMO disciplines and the Delivery disciplines of project management. The first delivery based role is that of a “Project Leader”. Working on small workpackages and reporting to a Project Manager, the Project Leader remains a member of the PMO until the Leader is ready to move on into the wider business as a Project Manager.
There are currently 58 Project Leaders – all developing as a result of the EPO programme of nurturing the next generation Project Managers.
For those choosing the stay within the PMO discipline there are also two routes – generalist or specialist.
The generalists work within the Portfolio or the spoke Programme and Project Offices. Development and pathways exist from Co-ordinators through the ranks to senior PMO Managers.
There is also an EPO Centre of Excellence (CoE) where the specialist PMO professionals reside. Here the PMO consists of specialists in planning, finance, risk and change. They not only work on specific programmes and projects where specialist knowledge is required or work in different areas of the business when required – they also work on the core PMO service offerings. It is in the CoE where standards are set; processes are created or improved and a strong knowledge sharing relationship with the generalist PMOs is formed.
Managing 211 People
Not only are there a vast amount of people working in PMO at Fujitsu – they’re also working in lots of different places – some are at corporate offices – in both the North and South of England – some are working onsite at client site. Then there are the wider teams in different countries.
How on earth do you manage this?
The whole EPO has three managers – one for the generalist PMOs; one for the CoE and one for the Project Co-ordinators/Leaders.
There are monthly team meetings – happening virtually – which cascade down to all the PMO team members. Each month there are messages from the business and any other updates and news from the PMO. They also include guest speakers from other parts of the business to talk to the team about what’s happening in other areas that have an impact on their work or are of interest. For example, the apprenticeship programme which might benefit the PMO going forward in their quest for new talent.
Crucially it’s the twice of year face-to-face meetings where the PMO get together. These days include business updates; new ways of working or best practice changes; guest speakers; bite sized learning; business changes; exercises; workshops and the continuous improvement roadmap.
The community of practice time is an important event – the continuous improvement roadmap is the practical outcome to discussions and workshops that are held at these events. Things get done – not just talked about.
The pragmatism is something that should be mentioned, the EPO gets things done. Where something can be done better they’ll do it. If they want people to use the services; they’ll go out and make sure people know about it.
For example, the continuous improvement team has two headcounts – these people also promote the use of the PMO service. Sometimes new proposals or responses to tenders just need a little nudge to remind them that the PMO should also form part of the offering to a client. Sometimes a team of two might just spend a little time educating people for that inclusion!
The EPO has also spent time on the learning and development needed to improve their PMO – they offer three courses to ensure the foundations for success are there – that everyone is starting out on the right foot.
A nice little detail is that each new starter in the PMO also gets paired up with a buddy or mentor. This is someone who they won’t work with on a day-to-day basis – but someone who not only provides a friendly face and a sounding board – but also helps someone find their internal networking feet in a new organisation. Nice touch.
The EPO have also taken an extended role in terms of development – they have taken over the assessment panel from the HR department. This is the panel where promotions are decided. The EPO manages the application process. If they see an area where the PMO can help or add value to the organisation and the strategic objectives of the organisation, they go for it.
The journey has taken four years so far – to move into a position of offering a hub and spoke model which benefits both the organisation and their clients. There is always something else to do – the continuous improvements are just that – continuous.
Will they win?
The EPO at Fujitsu has a powerful story to share, they’ve been building momentum and in their words they’ve created a “PMO industry and career of choice” at Fujitsu.
There has been a mind shift and change across the business in the way the PMO is used and viewed.
“It’s been phenomenal!”
The way the PMO is now seen by the business is a whole new level of seriousness.
The icing of the cake of course would be a nice serious PMO of the Year Award to stick on the PMO mantelpiece to keep reminding them it was a great achievement to get here.
Good luck to Justin and the team in November!
We’ll be looking forward to hosting a future PMO Flashmob with the EPO to get into some of the details of their journey.