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Operational Excellence in a PMO // PMO Conference 2023

BDO Central PMO: Helping the business deliver change effectively and efficiently.

The BDO Central PMO team was formed in June 2021 to:

  • Maximise Change Investment
  • Help Deliver Change Effectively and Efficiently
  • Track, Record and Report on Programme Expectations
  • Help Build Firm Wide Change Capability

Since June 2021 the BDO Central PMO team has grown to twenty-eight staff.

The PMO includes three key areas.

  • Portfolio PMO – responsible for status reporting, assurance, maintaining ‘How To’ guides and minimum standards, providing leadership insights, coaching and promoting the use of ‘right-sized’ governance and delivery approaches
  • Programme Delivery – consisting of Programme Managers, Project Managers, and Business Analysts responsible for the delivery of key strategic programmes
  • Business Readiness – responsible for readying our business stakeholders/users for upcoming changes

It was agreed that the PMO would focus less on ‘rear view’ cost/benefits management and instead focus on ‘do ability’ to ensure the business delivers its strategic objectives, makes the best use of its resources and provides coaching/training to the business in core change disciplines. This has meant that the PMO has had to develop approaches that mature as the business matures.

Although experts in all things change governance, delivery and readiness, the assembled PMO recognised that they needed to be ‘Customer-Centric’ so that they provided an appropriate level of coaching/training/reporting/challenge to achieve results ‘wrapped’ in cultural excellence that allowed for feedback, continuous improvement, a good understanding of what is required, piloting of ideas, risk focus (not training course ‘best practice’), leading by example etc.

It was also recognised that the introduction of ‘rigour’ would be seen as bureaucratic, red tape, introduce delays, etc. while having to challenge some of the existing behaviours progressively.

Operational Excellence = Business results + Cultural Excellence

The PMO used tools such as Customer Centric End to End Processes, SIPOC, and Systems Thinking to understand better what they are doing and why and to identify and challenge any behaviours (internal and external to the team) that would limit success.

The PMO has 8 Macro End to End Processes. Their customer centricity is regularly reviewed. When proposed changes are considered in the context of the overall process and customer requirement, these processes are widely understood as they avoid using PMO ‘jargon’.

Although still in their infancy and working towards being a high-performing team the PMO regularly receives excellent feedback from the COO, CIO, and Finance Partner (CFO equivalent) as we provide an appropriate level of MI, challenge and focus on the right things and help the business make better decisions.


Recorded Session


Presentation Deck

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PMO Reporter / Martin Bell

In this session, Dom Wilson, PMO Director at BDO, gave an overview of the culture of Operational Excellence that he, and his team, have developed and how they went about achieving it. While Dom gave an in-depth insight into Operational Excellence a few of the concepts he highlighted stood out in particular:

  • Although a somewhat passing comment and quite low down on his ‘Apply Cultural Excellence’ list (Slide 11), the concept of piloting ideas, failing fast and rapid prototyping resonated with me. Having spent a lot of time in small fast-moving organisations, this approach often makes the biggest impact. Something simple is better than something complex, and something now is better than something in 6 months.
  • Root Cause Analysis, understandably, also featured significantly. Identify the cause of your problems and systematically look to resolve them. His modified Ishikawa fishbone diagram paired with five whys is a simple but clearly effective way to start your investigation.
  • Continuous Improvement, or Kaizen, was also called out at numerous points. Paired with the above items it makes for a fantastic framework for improving aspects of any PMO.

Despite these great approaches, the main one that stuck with me on the day was BDO’s use of the Pareto Principle. While most of us have heard of the Pareto Principle, 80% of your Issues come from 20% of your processes; how many of us put it into practice?

On reflection, I can say with certainty that I don’t.

I spend much of my time in the trenches resolving day-to-day issues to keep the business moving forwards. If I were to investigate all these issues and follow the three bullets above, I’d have much more capacity for larger strategic initiatives.

During the session, Dom outlined his team’s approaches to ensure a customer-centric approach. One of the items that surprised me most was his advice to “avoid ‘band-aids.'” By this, he meant that the team should not implement short-term solutions to problems. Instead, they should focus on finding long-term, sustainable solutions to benefit their customers truly.

In my experience, however, it is more effective to implement processes that address at least some of the issues at hand rather than waiting for a complete solution. This approach allows progress to be made while working towards a comprehensive resolution.

This opposition to ‘band-aids’ was surprising as it seems to me that it would align with Dom’s drive to pilot ideas and fail fast. That said, this may be one of those instances where what he meant and how I understood it differed.

In summary, it was a fantastic session and it was great to see Dom throwing questions volunteered by the audience, in this case me, to his team members. It showed his trust in them and that his ‘Operational Excellence’ mindset is truly something ingrained in his leadership approach.


Martin is an experienced PMO, programme and change professional and [you can connect with him here] The PMO Reporter role is a volunteer activity for House of PMO members.

Dominic Wilson

A Chartered Quality Professional with over 25 years of Change Delivery and PMO experience gained in Automotive, Financial Services and Professional Services having delivered the change, assured the change, and audited the change.

Passionate about connecting strategy to delivery and building high-performing teams.

A father of 3 adults, living a new life in the Cotswolds but nowhere near ready to retire.

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