PMO Leadership – Get the Basics Covered

Earlier this week I went along to a PMO Workshop in my capacity as a committee member for the PMOSIG. The workshop was being run by Mark Duddy from PMO Works and presented by Mark Price Perry, from BOT International. Mark Price Perry presents the PMO Podcast, is Director of PMO at gantthead and author of “Business Driven PMO Setup“. There’s a write up on the workshop over on the PMOSIG site but here on the Camel I wanted to share some specific points about PMO leadership which I believe are pretty fundamental for a successful PMO but are often overlooked.

Mark presented these points on why PMO Managers require greater leadership skills more than ever before;

  • Management of the PMO spans all organisational levels
  • Management of projects is inherently collaborative and participatory
  • Greater technical knowledge is required
  • Greater business strategy and process controls required

The issue however is this;

Many PMO Managers are first time managers with little or no experience or training in:

  • People Management
  • P&L Management
  • Business strategy development
  • Negotiations and conflict resolution
  • Leadership

Obviously it is imperative that new PMO Managers – or specifically I’m thinking about the people who have risen through the ranks of PMO rather than people who have gained delivery experience in programmes and projects –

Mark Duddy and Mark Price Perry

receive training and development around “new manager” areas. Looking back at a recent blog post on PMO resourcing where 40% of surveyed PMOs believe that lack of training or skills presents a significant challenge to their PMO; if that lack of training and skill specifically applies to the leader of the PMO we’ve got a big problem on our hands.

In the marketplace PMO Manager roles on average still tend to be at the lower end of the pay scale which implies that an organisation want the PMO structure but are not prepared to resource it with a leader that has come from a more senior management level (prior experience as a programme manager say). Generally PMO Managers are still very experienced PMO analysts and co-ordinators who have moved up the ranks and have gained significant project management theory based experience. Coming back to the workshop I attended, Mark talked at length about the PMO having to be business driven as opposed to theory driven – in other words PMOs tend to be “too focused on the theory of project management” and “too little focus placed on the business in which project management is applied”. It is this business focus that is needed in the PMO and one which strengthens the PMO’s success rate.

I would recommend the Business Driven PMO Setup as a place to start for any PMO Manager – theory and/or business savvy PMO Managers – to really understand what your PMO is there to do and how to make sure it delivers what is expected of it – preferably by the objectives set when it was first created.

Leadership can’t be learnt from a book but it’s certainly one place to start.


Image Suzie T

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