Two By Two – The PMO Matrices

Last week’s PMO Flashmob was a diamond – a real old skool PMO Flashmob night where there was lots of chat, debate, a few laughs, some brilliant thinking and ideas literally zinging around the room.

We were back at Ticketmaster’s bar (if they ever stopped supporting us I think there will be a collective howl and sobs from the PMO Flashmobbers – thanks again TM-mob!) and this time we were experimenting with 2×2 matrices/matrix.

We see 2×2 matrices in lots of different places – a common one is the Stephen Covey time management one (to the right) that people in all walks of life have used (there’s a big explanation of it here). We also see them within different fields of management, including project management. The stakeholder management matrix of power vs interest has long been a popular one and can be seen below.

The aim of the evening was twofold.

The first, for people to share the 2x2s, they really like or just wanted to show others to get the conversation going.

The second part was all about creating new 2x2s specifically for the PMO world.

Now, I thought the second part might be quite difficult, but how wrong was I.

Let’s share some of the ones from the evening and see what you think.

1. The Spreadsheet Conundrum Matrix

Here’s one that A LOT of PMO people can identify with. We have lots of complicated spreadsheets, all cobbled together and tied by string. How do we make the decision – or how do we identify the need that maybe it’s time to find a better solution?

Here’s the decision dilemma matrix – with functionality – of what the spreadsheet is being used for versus complexity – of what we’re trying to do with the spreadsheet.

Low complexity / Low functionality – we might as well keep it because it’s simple and it probably has a single purpose so why bother scrapping it and using something else.

Low complexity / High functionality – this is the dream state for the spreadsheet – a stay of execution, we’re getting a lot from it with very little complexity involved and therefore less room for errors.

High complexity / low functionality – get rid of it, it’s being overcooked to provide us with not very much at all.

High complexity / high functionality – now’s the time to think about retiring the spreadsheets and migrating to a new solution.

Watch the Intro


2. Four Types of PMO Matrix

We take a look at the current thinking behind what determines what a PMO is. With the P3O school of thinking it gives us the two-axis – supporting delivery – those PMOs that are supporting projects and programmes and – enabling decision-making – where the focus is on giving senior executives the information, they need to make decisions about an organisation’s whole change activity.

Here’s what we have:

Low support of delivery / Low decision-making enablement – it’s the administrative type of PMO where the tasks are still very secretarial. They still have a purpose and a place in some organisations

High support of delivery / Low decision-making enablement – that’s the traditional project and programme offices that are temporary, often embedded within the project or programme that it’s supporting.

Low support of delivery / High decision-making enablement – this is the portfolio office, supporting strategy execution and prioritisation of work across the organisation’s whole change portfolio.

High support of delivery / High decision-making enablement – this is the dream situation for a lot of PMOs where there’s expertise to support programmes and projects as well as maintaining the health of the portfolio.

For the Mystery Machine version, we have this one:

Scooby-Doo – he’s always helpful with the hands-on support in tasks when he’s needed. He’s often in tricky situations, but ultimately he’s got your back.

Shaggy – without Shaggy, Scooby-Doo wouldn’t be the dog he is today, providing practical support (most of the time) and often risk-averse – he gets stuff done.

Velma – she’s the voice of reason, definitely the brains of the outfit, any strategising that’s needed and deep thinking, she’s got it sorted.

Fred – the ultimate leader, he brings it all together with his experience and knows where each of his team will perform the best.

3. The PMO Meeting Mire Matrix

The dilemma of meetings – should you attend or not? Is it worth it? Do I REALLY need to be there?

It got the PMO Flashmobbers thinking about it and here the two-axis are – the objective of the meeting – is it well defined or not and the duration of the meeting – short or long.

Here’s what we have:

Short Meeting / Vague Objectives – depending on your viewpoint, it could be a brainstorm to find a way forward to something more defined, or it could just be pointless – you decide.

Short Meeting / Well Defined – considered to be a high-value meeting where decisions can be made quickly because the right people are in the room.

Long Meeting / Well Defined – any kind of planning meeting or away-day type event, it’s going to take time, there are lots to get through, but the agenda is tight, in other words, the planning has been done to get the most out of the planning meeting!

Long Meeting / Vague Objectives – well, it’s torture, what else can we say?

4. The PMO Report Matrix

Here we are, the reports that come from the PMO. We just had to have a matrix on this one and here it is. The two-axis are – the quality of the data – which we’re using to create the report and the way we’re choosing to present that information by visuals.

Let’s take a look at this one:

Low Visuals / Low Data Quality – it’s not going to get read. It might be read the first time but once they realised the data is rubbish and they can’t be bothered to plough through the text. . .

Low Visuals / High Data Quality – it’s good for the detailed level when it’s needed and if the data quality is good, it’s a prime candidate for being automated (see the RPA thing here for more on this)

High Visuals / Low Data Quality – someone went mad with Powerpoint making some pretty pictures that could actually do more damage than good. They’re worthless.

High Visuals / High Data Quality – we’re cooking on gas, this is what our executives want to see – great visualisations using great data which moves them to make decisions.

5. The PMO Value & Success Matrix

This one is slightly different from the other matrices you’ve seen so far. All of those were created on the night from scratch. This next one has taken an existing matrix and given it a PMO Flashmob make-over.

Here’s the original one. It’s a risk and reward matrix used by organisations to find a balanced portfolio. In a project management world that would mean:

Pearls – definitely the projects we want to focus on

Oysters – they’re long-shots, might not be successful but if they are, they can be game-changers

Bread & Butter – small, simple, highly repeatable – often they’re smaller, incremental changes to existing products

White Elephants – they might start out well as a good idea, but over time they really need to be killed off, but that’s difficult to do!

We switched this one to mean:

Pearls – the PMO that changes, innovates, does what it needs to do to continue supporting the business and has the remit to do that.

Oysters – a PMO that is able to experiment with some of its service offerings – they might come off, they might not

Bread & Butter – a PMO that is ripe for automation – the tasks are repetitive with little proactivity.

White Elephants – the PMO that isn’t giving the business what it needs.

We also talked about this matrix in relation to one PMO. Is the ideal PMO one that is a bit of Bread & Butter and a lot of Pearl? Or is it one that combines Bread & Butter, a lot of Pearl and a bit of Oyster?

PMO Flashmob on LinkedinWe’ve shared with you just a fraction of the output from that evening session. If you’d like to see more, head over to our Linkedin group and we will be posting the rest up – one a day! It’ll also give you the chance to share your own, or make any comments on the ones that have been created.

Here’s the latest one over in the Linkedin group!




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.

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