PMOs – The Walking Talking Lessons Learnt

PMO FlashmobJust like the first PMO Flashmob two years ago, the first PMO Flashmob in Birmingham was a cosy affair. We had the opportunity to speak together as one group which is certainly something we can’t do anymore in London because the network has become so much bigger.

We’re sowing the seeds in Birmingham and its only a matter of time before the great and good of the Midlands will join us at future events.

So last night. We had so many different conversations from systems and tools, through to the likes and dislikes of the job and some thoughts about where the PMO should be working in the future. The interesting thing about getting PMO practitioners together is regardless of the type of PMO you are working in or managing there is always something you’ll take away from the discussions. In fact at one point it felt like a PMO support group!

So what were my takeaways from the first PMO Flashmob in Birmingham?

A few things.

I liked the idea of the PMO being the walking, talking lessons learnt. Forgot about entries in a database never to be accessed again. The people who work within the PMO should be the real lessons learnt. They are the ones who understand the best practice on the one hand, and see the realism of multiple projects on the other. They should be able to ask questions, provide challenge, offer alternatives and solutions based on the wider breadth of projects and programmes they have previously supported. We were also clear that the PMO does not have the final decision making responsibilities, that belongs to the PM, Programme Manager etc. The PMO however should be making more of the lessons they have learnt on the way and sharing those in the best way possible – through conversation and communication, not through database searches.

When talking about the parts of the job that we like when working in the PMO it seems to boil down to challenges and energy. We like the opportunity to add new services or take a new direction. We like to be able to provide tactical solutions to problems – problems that are happening in that day. We even got specific – a difficult gateway – is an opportunity to deal with exceptions as well as learning more about different intricacies of the business due to the nature of the different stakeholders involved in such a difficult gateway.

The parts of the job we don’t like are the areas where our lack of authority is very obvious. For example, we are asked by senior management to provide a certain report however the PMO is already creaking in terms of resources and systems to provide the core, agreed services. We want to respond to changes and provide what the senior management needs, however we don’t have the capacity to provide that. Something has to give, the PMO scope needs to change to include new requests, however a ‘change request’ will be met with derision, an expectation that the PMO can always do more with less (or the same)

We also talked about reporting, the question, “If you had to report on one thing that the business really needs to see what would it be?” My favourite, among many was, how much do bad decisions really cost us? There was an attempt to work out how you could actually do that, but that’s the kind of conversation you should really have been there to experience 😉

We’ll be holding another PMO Flashmob in Birmingham in July, watch out for the new date and hopefully a venue fit for a decent summers evening.

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About Lindsay Scott

Lindsay is the founder of PMO Flashmob and a Director at PMO Learning - the sister company to PMO Flashmob and the best training company for PMO people in the world! She's also the creator of London's first dedicated PMO Conference; Director of Arras People and PMO enthusiast. Loves dogs and gin.

One comment

  1. Hi Lindsay,
    Thanks for organising the other night. It was great to meet everyone. Really interesting conversation, good food, good wine and I thought the venue was great (particularly handy for me so I would say that!).

    Special thanks to Eileen and her husband for the lift home. As I didn’t have any cards on the night, if people can find me on linkedIN to connect that would be grand.

    Looking forward to the next one…

    Many Thanks,

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