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The Art of the Possible – Making the Difference When it Matters the Most: Virgin Atlantic ePMO

I think we can all appreciate just how the aviation and travel industry was impacted in 2020 and still is today (at the time of writing in February 2021) Good news stories were hard to come by and we weren’t expecting to hear one which specifically put the PMO at the centre.

We had the opportunity to hear that story from Virgin Atlantic’s VP of Transformation and Head of ePMO.

Called the Art of the Possible, the PMO was all set with a kickoff event in January 2020 with the aim to support the organisation’s ambitious plans, to do that they “needed real, rapid and reimagined organisational transformation, not only to the way we think about and plan but how we deliver change” This was the dream:

  • imagine being able to see all of your demand in one place
  • ranked by ease of implementation (RIICE) and
  • the value to your organisation (BVI)
  • that can be directly linked to bottom-line impacting KPIs
  • with benefits that are traceable
  • that everyone is aligned to what you are doing
  • and understands the context of why

Then the pandemic hit. Find out what happened and how they made it possible. In this session, were delighted to have Kirsty Bennett join us. Kirsty is the Vice President of Transformation at Virgin Atlantic and she shares a great story of how an effective PMO can really make the difference when the business strategy changes from growth to survival.

Back in January 2020, the beginnings of an organisation transformation and a big change in how change is delivered gets underway. The session looks at overcoming silo working; annual budget setting; hefty business cases; ‘deliver then wither’; hybrid delivery methods and disconnect from the organisational strategy.

The session also looks at how the changes made were put to the test when the lockdown hit and how the PMO was able to support the changes needed, with a sense of urgency and speed. This is a story of transformational agility at an enterprise scale, in an industry bought to its knees, with a successful PMO at the heart of it.

An inspiration for any PMO wanting to make a real difference when it matters the most. Oh and you’ll be delighted to know, there was not one Excel spreadsheet in sight.

The Video Session

Start by taking a look at the video session:

The Slidedeck

The Supporting Material Goody Bag

In this document, Kirsty shares some of the approaches they used: Goody Bag

Key Takeaways

Throughout the session, PMO Flashmobbers were chatting way, asking questions and sharing their own insights based on what Kirsty was sharing. Here are some of the highlights:

      1. We loved the quote from Kirsty, “even though they thought I was bonkers, they still supported me”. That was in response to the plans shared on how Virgin Atlantic would be transforming the way they deliver. We already know that support and backing from senior executives is vital for the PMO to be able to do its job, do you get this support in your organisation?
      2. For the PMO to be able to support an organisation in this way, it’s obvious that you really do need to understand the ins and outs of how the business operates. It’s also crucial that there is a clear organisational strategy so everyone in the business knows what needs to be achieved and it can be actively measured to make sure everyone is on track to meet the strategy. It’s the ‘golden thread’ that is often missing. Does your organisation have a clear strategy?
      3. The PMO can bring more creativity into what they do. The PMO Flashmobbers like the branding, the video, the soundbites, the imagery – all those things that we know captures and holds people’s attention when delivering important information that you want people to buy into and take action. Does your PMO take the time to think about this side of communications?
      4. It is possible to not use Excel or Powerpoint by making full use of Microsoft – including Teams, PowerBI and Azure. Does your organisation already have the licencing for these products, maybe they do and you could start experimenting today?
      5. It doesn’t matter how big your PMO team is – it’s about focusing on the right approach for the organisation and the services needed to support that approach. With this ePMO there are three people. Does your PMO deliver any services that in reality are not needed anymore? When was the last time you did a review of that?
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