Wednesday, 6 July 2016

p3m global PMO Roundtable 2016 Report

PMO Careers, Demonstrating Value and Bringing Agile out of the Basement: A report on p3mg’s first PMO Roundtable. 

By Ray Mead, CEO, p3m global

On 30th June we at p3m global hosted our inaugural PMO Roundtable event at Brown’s Hotel in London. The format, where attendees set their own agenda under Chatham House rules, has been very popular for some time with our Australian sister company and I’m pleased to report a similar experience here in the UK.

The conversation was lively, informed and centred around several key themes: PMO as an emerging career choice, the lack of investment in genuine PMOs and, finally, the rise of Agile and the need for ‘multimodal’ governance.

The first two are easily summarised. We have seen, when working with our clients on the development of P3M career pathways, that working in a PMO is increasingly popular with project managers as they plan their career paths. For some it offers a different perspective, a big picture view that enhances their appreciation of good governance. For some, it is a route into portfolio management and others again see it as a career path in its own right. This is to be welcomed and we at p3mg have certainly been at the forefront of this, developing with our clients, PMO-specific competencies and training programmes that are not found amongst the main PM standards. A voice of experience did remind us, however, that the competencies required in PMO set up are not necessarily the same as those required to run it, so a ‘PMO life cycle’ requires careful resource planning.

The lack of investment in PMOs is more worrying and comes back to the perennial inability of PMOs to demonstrate their value, both to the business and to the PM community they serve. All too often we, as consultants, are called in to ‘rescue’ a PMO that has fallen into one of the classic traps of over-reliance on compliance or the pathologically blunt implementation of an enterprise PPM tool. Interestingly, one of our participants who had recently set up a PMO had deliberately left compliance out of its remit and had seen the resulting benefits through the positive engagement levels of the PMs. Other solutions offered by the participants where to ensure that financial data (and finance people) were at the heart of PMO activity. If the PMO can demonstrate a positive impact in financial terms, said one participant, it will win more friends at the executive level. A word of caution was then added by p3mg’s Conor Gourley who reminded the team that, as demonstrated in our very own research, the most successful PMOs were found to report into a strategic function, not a financial one.

Finally, a subject close to my own heart, how do PMOs that have spent the last 10 years gaining control and encouraging predictability deal with the rise of agile? The answer, according to the group, lies in moving away from a ‘one-size-fits-all’ governance approach and moving toward a new, evolved understanding of P3M maturity; one that adopts the right governance style for the right initiative. Bimodal is too simplistic – multimodal is the future.

Again, this is certainly the direction we are seeing in the market as we undertake agile transformation programmes with our clients.

It was perhaps fitting that the Roundtable took place in the very room at Brown’s where Alexander Graham Bell first used his ‘telephone’ in the UK. There was a distinct connection made between practitioners, consultants and academics who came together to tackle issues facing us all but they came from different perspectives. If you would like to participate in future PMO Roundtable events or suggest future topics for us to address, please contact us on We would love to hear from you.