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Taking Ownership of Tasks in Your PMO Role


In the PMO Competency Framework there is a key behaviour focused on tasks:

Take ownership of tasks and complete promptly keeping customers up to date on progress and completion

In this article, we take a look at what this behaviour means and how, as PMO professionals, we can ensure that we are demonstrating this behaviour in our everyday work.

The definition of a task is a piece of work to be done. It sounds simple and straightforward yet we will look at each part of the behaviour in turn and provide different insights and practical tips on completing tasks.

This article is not focused on time management, we will cover that key behaviour in a different post, it’s about how we perform tasks for successful completion.


Tasks in the PMO


There are many different types of tasks we carry out in the PMO – it depends on the role we’re performing, the type of PMO we’re working in, the different functions and services the PMO provides.

We are also carrying out tasks not just on our own, sometimes we’re collaborating with others to complete something. Sometimes the tasks we perform are dependent on someone else performing their tasks or our own tasks have to be completed before someone else can do their tasks.

Just take a look at a typical day in the life of a Project Support Officer, in this one day alone there are at least sixteen different tasks. Each task using different experiences, techniques, processes and tools – working alone or with others to complete them.


At its very basic there is a question of capability – can you perform the task you’ve been asked to carry out? And if you don’t, what mechanisms and support are in place to help you gain the right experience to complete it now and in the future.

Top Tip: make sure you have a notepad and pen whenever anyone is showing you a new process to follow or how to use a particular system. Make sure you note down every step in the process. Don’t worry if this takes longer, the person showing you how to do something new will be patient and will actually be pleased you’re conscientious in this way.


Taking Ownership of Tasks


What does it mean when we are asked to take ownership of a task? It means you become responsible for it, you’re accountable for that work and you’re taking the initiative to get it completed.

It should mean you’re making an active and enthusiastic commitment to taking on that work task.

The more you take ownership of tasks in your PMO role, and perform them well and to the required standard and successful output – the more you’re seen as a reliable and trustworthy pair of hands. It’s about being experienced enough to carry out the work autonomously – without help from others – that makes your role and the work you do, valuable to the team.

Top Tip: working in a PMO gives you the opportunity to become known for particular tasks, that go-to person who gets the job done, the one who is making an active and enthusiastic commitment is the kind of person people like to be around in a project environment. What could you become known for?


Keeping Customers Up to Date


Let’s take a look at that behaviour again:

Take ownership of tasks and complete promptly keeping customers up to date on progress and completion

Completing work promptly is very much a time management behaviour, but what about keeping our customers up to date?

Let’s take a look at the world of customer service and see what we can learn from that profession and how they work with their customers.

>> You can also download and print or keep this list.

Customer Service PMO

There are a lot of customer service approaches we could and should be used within the PMO, after all, we are providing a service – often to different customers at different times.

Top tip: at the next PMO meeting, why not try an exercise of taking the customer’s perspective, putting yourself in their shoes. Try it with the different types of customers that you have – project managers, department heads, senior execs etc.

Keeping our customers up to date on the progress of a task is just one aspect of working well with customers and at its basic, it is about communication – letting people know what’s happening and when they can expect a task to be completed.


Task Motivation


What if you’re struggling to get motivated to complete a task? We all have those tasks to do which we’d rather wish we didn’t have to, but they need doing, it’s all part of the job.

Research over the years has shown one of the biggest motivators to getting a task done is knowing and understanding exactly why you’re doing that task.

Top tip: do you understand why you perform some of the PMO tasks you do? And we mean really understand? The So What? test is a good one to try out. Keep asking the same question three times, “Why am I doing this task?” with each answer you can think of, say so what? It’s a test to see of you can go deeper with your answers. Here’s an example:

Why am I doing this short status report each Monday morning? It kicks the week off so everyone knows what’s happening across the project. So what? It helps the Project Manager focus on key areas, the parts that might need their intervention or help. So what? It helps to drive out the issues so the team knows what their priorities are. So what? It sets the resourcing plan for the week. So what? I think you get the picture!

To tackle a task there are key things you need to know in order to see that task through to completion:

  1. Understanding what it is you have to do
  2. Having the experience and capability to complete the task
  3. Having access to the right tools and techniques to perform the task
  4. Understanding why you are performing the task
  5. Knowing when it needs completing by
  6. Understanding who you are performing the task for – indirectly and directly
  7. Knowing how important the task is
  8. And any dependencies that will impact you being able to complete the task
  9. Understanding if it’s a repetitive task and if so, when and how often
  10. What a completed task should look like – how will you know when it’s done.


Task Completion

The final aspect of the behaviour is task completion. How do we know something is completed?

In SCRUM there is the Definition of Done (DoD) which helps us consider if we have completed a task. Essentially DoD is a team agreement on a list of criteria that must be met before a piece of work can b
e considered done, and the same can apply to your own work.

If we have approached the task correctly, we should already know what the expected outcome or goal is and against this, we will have an understanding of what criteria needs to be met before we can consider a task completed.

One of the aspects of task completion we have to consider is if formal approval or sign off is required by another person. Until this has been achieved, our task has not been completed and we’re still accountable for it.

The same goes for who needs to be informed about the outcome of the task you have completed – does it need to be shared more widely in the organisation, who needs to see it, read it, take action on it? Again, accountability for the task doesn’t end until the right people have been informed and action or decision has been taken.

When we complete a task we should also be aware of whether the completion triggers another task that either needs completing by you or handed over to someone else to now perform their task. This handover needs to be completed before your accountability ends.

Finally, there are often dependencies to a task – sometimes in our control, sometimes not. If the task we are performing requires inputs from others or different sources of data that are only available at certain times, it is still our responsibility to oversee, manage and sometimes cajole to pull together everything that is needed to complete the task.


Behaviours in a PMO Role


In this article, we have covered just one behaviour from the PMO Competency Framework and shown that there are many different ways in which a PMO professional can demonstrate they are using that behaviour to carry out their role, if not competently then going the extra mile to provide an exemplary service to their customers and the wider organisation.

When we become experienced in a role and understand the technical components of what we do such as understanding why we have risk register and how to create and manage one – it is often the behaviours we display when carrying out the role that really sets us apart from other people.

Behaviours are the things we can see others doing – behaviours are visible whereas things like attitude, traits, personal style or approach are not. For example, someone with a can-do attitude, it is the behaviours they display that would demonstrate they have a can-do attitude e.g., being available and ready to provide support when and where it is needed, motivates others in the team to provide great service, approachable and tackles tasks positively.

At the House of PMO, we will continue to look at all the listed behaviours in the Competency Framework that any PMO professional can work on to improve, you can keep reading about behaviours in the House of PMO library.

Key Behaviours


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