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Three Letter Acronyms – What Every PMO Should Know

PMO is a great example of a TLA (three letter acronym) that we use without feeling the need to explain what each letter stands for and what it actually means. We often forget that many of them are specific to our own organisation or are not fully understood by the wider audience.
What makes this a great session is that we get to explore different topics too – from PMO, to risk, to stakeholders – and we learnt about new ones too – like PINO-DICE-DRACI-ERICA – yes, there is a bit of poetic license involved as they’re not all three letters!
We took the top 5 TLAs you are likely to come across when working within PMOs and learnt a little more about them.

Recorded Session

 

 
Which TLAs were covered in the session:
 

 
 

Slidedeck

>>You can download the deck here too
 
 

Key Takeaways

 

 
 
If you’re looking for a quick explanation of the difference between support based PMOs and service based PMOs – the one pager in the deck is the place to find it. Service based PMOs are the way that many PMOs are going – and it’s helping raise the value of what the PMO can do for organisations.
 
 

 
It also led us to think about the other benefits of a service-based PMO which was recruitment. It becomes a lot easier to tell people what your PMO does and therefore easier to find and recruit people with the right kind of skills to fit the services you deliver.
 

 

 
 
Members on the session had a number of different acronyms they use – including:

    1. DICE (Decision, Inform, Consult, Execute) – an alternative to RACI – read more
    2. PINO (PRINCE2 in Name Only) – comes from the days when organisations ran waterfall based projects that were using the PRINCE2 method – but they weren’t really!
    3. DRACI (Decision / Driver, Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed – another alternative to RACI – sometimes also DACI
    4. ERICA (Estimates, Risk, Issue, Change, Assumptions) – an alternative to RAID – also CLARID (Changes, Lessons, Assumptions, Risks, Issue, Decision or Dependencies.

 

 
 
KPIs for the PMO are still not something that many PMOs seem to use. There was an agreement that actually KPIs can help the people working in the PMO to stay motivated, engaged and have pride in the work they do – as well as demonstrating that the PMO is delivering outcomes and success for the business.
There is the KPIs, Metrics and Measures Inside PMO Report to help you get started in this area – you can take a look at that here.
 

 
 
RAG – Red, Amber, Green – for reporting the progress of projects and programmes. If there is a subject area that really gets PMO people talking, it’s this one!
The conversation took a turn about the different colours that have been used to denote different things.  The colour grey was mentioned to highlight projects that were on hold.
The Major Projects Association also use grey for projects that are on-hold, you can see an example here.
We thought we would jump onto Linkedin during the session and do a quick poll – as you can see, at the time of writing with a few days still to run, over 500 responses put grey as the colour of choice for projects on hold. If you’re interested in the comments, you can see that over on Linkedin here.
One comment included their whole list:
Green – On Track
Yellow/ Amber – Behind Schedule
Red – At Risk
Blue – Done | Done (nothing more to see here)
Grey – On Hold (funding, resources, other prioritization efforts have come to light – But Not Canceled yet)
Black – Canceled project

 
 

 

 
The final takeaway is all about the way we choose to use language in our work and with different people within our organisation. We have to be conscious that TLAs can be misunderstood – or just the mere mention of them stops people listening because they don’t understand and lose interest.
The problem a lot of the time is that they do become ingrained and embedded in everyday conversation and interactions which makes it difficult to new starters or those (like senior executives) who are not deeply involved with day-to-day project life.
One thing a PMO can do is make sure there is a terminology list that people can access and check – and to be conscious of the audience when communicating, whether that is in meetings, reports or documents.

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