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PMO Service: Capability Development and Competency Frameworks

 

One of the P3M Enabling competences with the House of PMO Competency Framework is Capability Development.

The definition of the competence is to “assess and support the continuous development of individual competence and collective professionalism to successfully deliver the current and anticipated portfolio of change”

This competence is required for the development of competence frameworks and role profiles for all those involved in the delivery of the portfolio – including Sponsors, Portfolio, Programme and Project Managers and PMO staff.

On our inaugural PMO panel discussion, there were three individuals with a wealth of experience in developing role profiles, bespoke competence frameworks, developing career paths, undertaking competence assessment and planning development activities, to share their experiences and provide practical hints and tips.

The session covers the PMO providing services to the people aspects of PPM and when we consider the often-used term about the PMO offering “value-add” services, this would be considered to be one of those services.

The PMO role in capability development and management is something that many mature PMOs are providing as part of their centre of excellence services and provides a focus on developing the skills required to deliver a portfolio of work within an organisation. Take a look at the video session and insights from the session:

Video Session

 

We kicked off the session with a poll:

Poll One

In your organisation, who is accountable for the development of people within the delivery organisation?

The choices were:

  • By individuals themselves
  • By line managers
  • By Learning & Development/ HR Managers
  • Head of Project/Programme Management
  • PMO

The most popular answer was by Line Managers, followed by individuals themselves.

The PMO has started to become involved in capability development and management due to the increased number of projects being delivered within an organisation and the need to have skilled people to deliver those projects.

This kind of work is linked to resource management – not only do we need to know what kind of people are required to deliver on projects and when (capacity management – resource planning), we also need to know if they are skilled to do so (capability management).

For people working in a project environment, the Head of Project/Programme Management (or similar) are better placed to understand what skills are required in delivery – working with the HR department to ensure development options are available. The line manager continues to work with individual employees in terms of performance reviews and development opportunities and ultimately it’s the individual who should also drive their own development based on the work they want to do now and in the future in relation to project delivery.

 

Poll Two

What competency frameworks are you aware of / have used in the past?

The most common answers were the project management based competency frameworks such as APM and PMI.      

There are others, including the IIBA (for Business Analysts), CMI (for change management) and many generic management ones which cover leadership. More recently there is the Project Delivery Capability Framework and the SFIA. All of these serve as great examples when thinking about your own organisation and where to start in terms of the structure of a framework.

When creating a competency framework or any kind of skills assessment framework for the organisation it’s about finding the balance of detail and useability. The structure you opt for will be key as will an understanding of the behaviours found within the delivery organisation. Any assessment tool like this has to be strongly aligned to corporate values in order for it to be picked up and used successfully.

Poll Three

How often have are you assessed against a competency framework?

We found that most of the responses indicated that PMO practitioners had done a self-assessment before but not necessarily one from the organisation they currently work within. This is an indication that people do take personal responsibility for their own development regardless of what might be advocated by the organisation. For some of the respondents, the PMO Competency Framework is the first self-assessment they have done. 

When it comes to assessments for the wide delivery organisation, the positive outcomes has been the ability to create career maps or job families – and they have helped with talent management and succession planning. The outputs from the assessments have helped the PMO to align training opportunities, specifically project related, with the career paths and also the skills gaps.

Although the development plans ultimately belong to line managers, the insights from consolidated assessments completed across the whole range of people delivering projects has enabled line managers to understand where the gaps are for their teams and individual employees.

Interestingly, even though skills assessments are about collecting a large amount of data (which brings its own challenges), most organisations still seem to manage these using complex spreadsheets rather than any kind of specialist tool.

The Role of the PMO

The PMO needs a resource that is experienced in the learning and development aspects of people – certainly at a level where they can engage with learning and development professionals to plan and design frameworks that are fit for purpose.

It is a complex service that involves many stakeholders and should never be a PMO-only project – ‘don’t do it alone’ was one piece of advice from the session. It is a project that ideally the HR department leads and the PMO helps to support them with subject matter expertise around project management related competences.

The PMO role predominantly focuses on managing the system and helping the organisation to see the consolidated results from it. The PMO can also use its expertise in providing specific training courses and workshops to help plug the skills gaps.

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