Lodger Graham answers a number of questions from Members to celebrate International “Ask a Stupid Question” Day

In so many ways, if the PMO is positioned well and has appropriate Sponsorship, it is all set to really be able to help the organisation.

But it should really be focused at helping to tackle the challenges the business faces. As an example, as a business we start a lot but don’t finish / deliver much = this is where a Portfolio Office can make a real difference. If we want to stop repeating the mistakes of the last project we did = this is where a Project Office can help.

The type of PMO that’s in place, depends on what the business problem is that needs solving. 

To quote from the House of PMO Essentials course . . . .

Project, programme and portfolio management (P3M) is the application of methods, procedures, techniques and competence to achieve a set of defined objectives.

Investment in effective P3 management will provide benefits to both the host organisation and the people involved in delivering the work.  It will:

  • Increase the likelihood of achieving the desired results;
  • Ensure effective and efficient use of resources;
  • Satisfy the needs of different stakeholders


A consistent approach to P3 management, coupled with the use of competent resources is central to developing organisational capability maturity.  A mature organisation will successfully deliver objectives on a regular and predictable basis.

Check out Graham’s answer to the question:

You can watch the video with subtitles (click CC)

Here’s the transcript:

How does having a pmo help the organization? Such a lovely question to start with? So how does the having a pmo help the organization? What do you think? We haven’t we haven’t set that up then definitely not that’s genuinely the first question.

Really? Okay. Okay. How does having to pay me help the organization in so many ways if the pmo is designed constituted and sponsored effectively from the outset?

Um, it’s really should be focused on the change the business side of the business as opposed to run the business. So it’s talk about improving capabilities, delivering strategy and strategic objectives.

and Even the question has pmo in it, right, so immediately you’re like, okay, but which sort of pmo was the question asking about and what I mean by that is – to run some scenarios – if you work in a

business where the general feeling is, we start lots of stuff but don’t really finish your delivery. I think then you might want some sort of portfolio office that make sure you start and finish the right things in the right order to deliver some value that would be a portfolio office. It might not go very deep but it kind of sees a bit about everything if you’re in an organization where God let’s not make mistakes you did two years ago on this project because that would be nightmare. That would be more of a project office. Sorry. Yeah, that would be a project office with a specific sort of request, a mandate to do some sort of Lessons Learned review so that you don’t make the mistakes a third time you could also make that a center of excellence and say right. Well, let’s let’s start from now and let’s have some common methods and Frameworks and templates and ways of doing things.

And you set up a permanent office in a business sitting on the change the business side and their entire role is to own that framework of how we do change here so that whomever in the business asks or demands or mandates that we’re going to run this project. Everybody immediately goes. Okay Central Excellence  show us how we do are yes, I remember those templates in a way you go. So it really depends on on how you construct pmo.

Lots of organizations that have that are big organizations or a very big budget for change have a need to do lots of change you would expect them to have some sort of Center of Excellence that owns Frameworks and project methodologies. And then they would they would be the ones that then push project managed project office or program office people into supporting individual projects or individual programs and then sitting around that you’d have the portfolio office that sits very closely with executive to make sure we are doing these projects we’ve stopped doing those haven’t we?

“Oh you want to do a new project? Where does that sit in the priorities?”

That sort of thing.

I mean there is lots and lots of textbooks around – there’s the House of PMO’s Essentials courses right and textbook answers, but from my experience, operating for 20 years as generally just satelliting into various organizations, that would be kind of the real life experience response to how does it help.

Transform the business to where it wants to go but it needs to be designed set up and sponsored correctly. Yes. Well a flip side to the question is is what happens to an organization that’s trying to deliver change. It didn’t have a pmo.


Um, okay, absolutely. So the easiest way to respond to that quickly, I think would be if you didn’t have a portfolio office. If you don’t have a portfolio office, then you’re unlikely to have any understanding of all the change initiatives that all the leaders in that organization are trying to start or run. You don’t know if you’ve got 10 projects of a size or a hundred running. If you don’t know how many projects you’ve got. You don’t know how many people are trying to put some time into that if you’ve got no framework. You don’t know if people are spending most of their time on BAU or most of their time one change if they’re spending a lot of the time on BAU then how are you delivering change? Well, because you’ve got lots of people walking around with capes on being superheroes, right, but that’s only sustainable for so long and then you find all our best people are leaving. Why is that well because we’re not so there’s all sorts of things that would be symptoms and perhaps indicators of oh, we haven’t really got to control of project offices. Sorry a portfolio office. Pmo in a project and programs sense.

Every time you start one (project) somebody has to work out how you’re going to do it. So if you haven’t got a pmo then typically you probably won’t have you won’t have a body of people called project managers or program managers. So you’re just give it to the best person in the business that knows that’s particular subject matter area expertise. So that person will spend the first X weeks and sleepless nights going. I don’t know how to run a project. I’m gonna do that and then somebody else like they then go and have a coffee moan about it. Oh, that’s the same for me. I’ve been asking this project and I have no idea. What did you start with?

So those are the some of the symptoms and the challenges if you don’t have pmo in the organization and unfortunately Graham based on some of the conversations we’ve been having recently and certainly at the exhibition that we were it’s still seems that like that is the case for a lot of organizations that they don’t have portfolio level type office. So they’re doing a bunch of projects and programs and you know some some of it’s going okay some of it’s chaotic, you know, so its is very much a thing that’s out there and it’s not just limited to kind of small medium-sized businesses. This is big businesses that have been doing this kind of stuff for a while. It’s it’s almost as if the successful businesses and I work for some they might seem to make money despite their lack of projects and program management not because of it. It’s like oh my goodness. Wow, but the share price is great. Okay, it could be fantastic if you did this better and actually some benefits management at the end of it.

Also, right. I mean, you know cards on the table I make a living going to organizations doing this but why aren’t organizations of any shape and size thinking we should kind of know what we need to be in the future. I was listening to a podcast that I actually it was really interesting and this guy he did say it wasn’t his quote so I can’t say who was but it basically said if you’re not agile then your fragile.

And you can treat that as an individual right? But you can treat that as an organization. Every organization has to learn how to change. Yeah right now probably really quite quickly given the world events. And if you haven’t got the basics of some sort of list of initiatives who’s in charge of each how much you’re gonna spend what you roughly trying to deliver Who’s involved? And and then some sort of summary status by color by phase by something. How on Earth. Are you safe? Yeah. Yeah.

Basically, it is until under get to a point where and the business is in trouble because they’ve not changed enough Yeah, the code out of the world, you know,

I do so part of it comes down to actually if you go a level up you it becomes almost a question of organizational design rather than project program management maturity. in that depending on your your organization and the industry you’re in if you need to be consistently Fleet of foot, why don’t you have a transformation director? And what why is it given to the head of it to manage change or HR to manage?

Right, so and and I don’t see many transformation directors. Transformation or delivery function sit somewhere either reporting into Finance because it’s all about the money all about operations because it’s going to impact operations, right but you need people with a different mindset than operations. So yeah, and I still think I still think that has if it doesn’t come top down it’s gonna struggle to grow bottom up. Yeah, and we certainly hearing a lot more of transformation offices starting. And again, we’re going to be digging into that subject scene how to pmh find that exactly what it is that they’re doing.