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What 12 Things PMO Practitioners Want to Start Doing

Last week was Project Challenge again and we were there (with a new red sofa!) to chat with PMO practitioners on the stand.

We had a great mix of different types of PMO practitioners and lots of different organisations too. So many had not come across us before so if you’re one of those people reading this now, welcome!

As ever we had a couple of questions up on the wall to see what people were thinking.

First question:

What Should You Automate in Your PMO?

If money, time and skills were no object, what would you choose to automate in your PMO? We wanted to see what people were thinking about the whole subject of automation (especially because of the recent session about Robotic Process Automation)

Here are some of the answers – we love the one about The Truth! It’s fair to say that automation is not high up in the list of priorities at the moment for the PMO practitioners that visited us.

When we said that automation leads to a freeing up on time when repetitive tasks are automated, which means there is more time for the PMO to introduce new stuff or get better at the things it currently does. In other words, we talk about really providing a great service to the business and hitting our objectives of supporting projects and programmes through to successful completion.

What Should Your PMO Start Doing?

The question was – if money, time and skills available were no object, what should your PMO start doing?

There were a few ticks against some of these – indicating that many visitors were also thinking along the same lines.

Benefits Management was the one that received the most ticks – and those people were predominantly from public sector based organisations.

It’s an interesting insight in two different ways. One, if you’re working in the public sector today and you’re not up on your benefits management knowledge, it’s something for you to take a look at.

Secondly, it raises the question of, who is responsible for benefits management in the organisation? Does the process sit with the PMO? Is the PMO expected to provide education around benefits management for delivery teams? The other one which was also popular was standardised reporting.

In conversations, this means different things. There are differences for some PMOs who are now reporting on both Agile and traditional projects; still problems with templates and processes; lower maturity or new PMOs just starting out.

We sometimes forget when we’ve been working in a PMO for a while, which has achieved a certain maturity level, that something as ‘simple’ as reporting can cause headaches. To link back to our previous question about automation, one of the biggest barriers to the automation route is, of course, having a decent process in place with accessible data.

Finally, project prioritisation was also rated by several different people. One particular conversation went along the lines of, “when everything else is in place and running smoothly, we’re circling back and starting to now look at portfolio management processes”.  Again, we hear this a lot too. The PMO starts it’s journey at the project and programme level most of the time – a bottom-up approach. It’s almost as if PMOs that start here – do good work and prove themselves – are then trusted to start looking at the process further up the chain. PMOs tick off supporting “doing programmes and projects well” before incorporating “and choosing the right programmes and projects to do in the first place”. It’s a common approach for sure.


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