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Pursuing a PMO Career? Think Beyond the Project Management Certifications

We got out and about at Project Challenge in London in October 2021 – the first time we’ve seen PMO practitioners face to face since the pandemic hit back in March 2020.
Not only was it great to see people, we also got to hear about their experiences working throughout the pandemic – and for many, they’re still working from home.
There were mixed feelings about that – some certainly don’t miss the commute but there was a general feeling that we’re missing those water-cooler moments – and sometimes feel out of the loop.
We also got to hear a session from John McIntyre which certainly has energy and hopefully some inspiration for you in your PMO career.

The Presentation


The Deck

The Deck

What We Loved About the Session


    • That your PMO career can start from very different places – John shared insights from his own career


    • Not many people come into the PMO thinking its a stepping stone to becoming a Project Manager – in fact, many Project Managers like the idea of working in a PMO especially when…


    • The PMO definitely has the spectrum from administrative support (still needed) right through to strategy (hence the interest from PMs and Programme Managers)


    • The PMO was crucial during the pandemic, especially being able to pivot and prioritise. Senior execs needed to make decisions and the PMO provided the data and information to help them do that.


    • Working / leading a PMO is much more than just knowing your project management theory – you also need to understand general management – ultimately we need to understand what our businesses are all about and what the organisation needs to do to continue being profitable / providing services / helping people.


    • We should always start a PMO with the question why? If we focus on and master what this why really is, the PMO can’t help but be successful in its aims and objectives


    • No-one really knows that the future might hold for the PMO because ultimately the places we work don’t really know either. That means we should keep learning from various places – and it won’t necessarily be in a training course (John mentioned business ethics, economics, finance and so on)


    • Harry Potter’s Room of Requirements – sparked off thoughts aboout the PMO helping to support solving problems for the organisation -and we need the right tools to help us do this.


    • He made a good point about visiting exhibitions (which is what Project Challenge is) to understand what might be the right tools for our jobs. It’s not necessarily about buying those tools – more about educating ourselves about the problems these tools are trying to solve.


    • Some additional skills to think about – over and above project management included – business analysis, facilitation, coaching, data visualisation and storytelling and something called citizen development.


    • Citizen development is about being able to build your own tools – the low code/no code tools such as Power Apps.


The Key Takeways

  1. Getting exploring – there’s so much stuff we get involved in with the PMO – it’s so much more that having PRINCE2!
  2. Thinking differently about what you’re seeing
  3. Understand the problems the vendors are solving
  4. Think about how you can use that insight to develop your skills.

There’s also some audience questions you might be interested in too – he responds to questions such as “tips for introducing agile into a PMO successfully” and “does the PMO need a rebrand to be more Agile friendly?”

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