Training PMOs

Training for PMOs

Following on from my previous post one of the comments asked what training is available for PMOs?As far as I am aware there are only 2 accredited courses which are primarily aimed at the PMO person. These are the PPSO courses (Foundation and Advanced) and the P3O courses (Foundation and Practitioner). There may be other courses out there, which are aimed at PMOs, but are not examined upon. Although courses without accreditation can be useful for those attending them, it can be difficult for organisations to understand whether people who have attended these courses are now ‘better’ individuals who are able to do the job they were employed for. Hence the popularity of exam focussed courses. classroom training

PPSO

The PPSO exams was produced to align to the PPSO manuals (Volumes 1 & 2). Where PPSO stands for Project and Programme Support Office. These were written by David Marsh back in 2000, and I believe they have had an update since, in about 2004 that still makes them over a decade old. Does that make them not worthwhile? I would say they still do have a place as they can explain some of the basics (at foundation level) for a PMO person. However as they are not aligned to current AXELOS/PMI/APM terminology then people who have been on other courses end up having to learn a new set of out dated terminology to pass.

P3O

The P3O exams align to the current P3O manual, which was updated in 2013, and therefore do align strongly to the rest of the AXELOS manuals. This makes them current for those individuals taking them. However at present due to the focus of the P3O manual being portfolio based (and yes the 2013 refresh is better than the 2008 original in giving programme and project offices a look in), this may not be of as much relevance to certain PMOs. As it focusses on setting up a PMO then it does have a good deal of relevance for the PMO leader/manager as it allows them to come away with an understanding of how a PMO needs to be structured in a large organisation.

What’s missing?

So if we have both of these courses what is missing that will enable our PMOs to improve and become the great individuals they strive to be?

Well in my view what is missing is the detail. So often I speak to PMOs, and see questions on linked in, that ask ‘How’ as in ‘How can I get risk management to work’; ‘Do you have a template for lessons learned’. I think what is required is a matrix of training modules that can be built up so you can either take them at a topic level e.g. risk, or they can be taken at a skill level e.g. reporting. What we then can do from an exam perspective is that we take this as a points system. So each one of the modules is worth a set of points, based on complexity, knoweldge imparted etc. You then require a minimum set of points in order to become a level 1 PMO person, a higher level of points to become a level 2 PMO person etc. By organising the training this way it would enable the people who don’t do a particular PMO topic to skip that topic, but still become qualified as a level 1 PMO. Like most qualifications that work this way (I am thinking Open University here) there would need to be a minimum set of compulsory modules at each level, but I am sure this can be incorporated.

Worked example

So this is how it see it working as a generic example

Topic
Theme Definitions (including templates)
  • What is this topic about?
  • What is in a typical template for this topic, and what are the definitions for the content of each field including any lookups used
Reporting & analysis
  • How can you provide roll up reporting?
  • What data is required in order to produce the relevant reporting?
  • What can you imply based on the report to turn the data into information
People
  • How to feedback to a person outside the PMO that they have misunderstood something (or it is wrong)
  • How to run workshops to help identify/update/close items related to this topic
  • How to identify when training is required, and at what level
  • Typical areas of conflict relating to this topic and suggestions as to how this may be resolved.
Process
  • What is the process to create/update/close/delete an item for this topic
  • How and when the topic will be used in a project/programme/portfolio lifecycle

And to translate that for a couple of subject it may look something like this:

Topic
Risk Benefits
Theme Definitions (including templates)
  • What is a risk?
  • Impact, probability, response types
  • What does a risk register look like
  • What would a risk checklist look like
What is the difference between a cost & a benefit?
Different types of benefit ā€“ financial & non-financial
How can you turn a non-financial benefit into a financial one
What does a benefit register/tracker look like
Reporting & analysis
  • How can you provide roll up reporting?
  • What data is required in order to produce the relevant risk reporting?
  • How to read the progress report to identify new risks
  • Identifying risks which are now issues
  • How do you track potential benefits
  • Can you track actual benefits
  • How to construct a Key Performance Indicator
  • Double counting of benefits. How to identify.
  • How to assign a benefit to a particular project
People
  • How to run a risk workshop
  • How to chase down a risk action
  • How to handle someone who says they donā€™t have any risks on their initiative
  • How to run a benefits workshop
  • How to tell a senior manager that benefits have been double counted and their business case is no longer valid.
Process
  • When would you discover a risk?
  • How and when are risks escalated?
  • When can a risk be closed?

What level of risk would be appropriate for a project/programme/portfolio?

  • When are benefits tracked?
  • How to track benefits within your organisation ā€“ linkage into other areas
  • What happens to tracking benefits after a project closes

Your thoughts?

Your views appreciated as to whether this may work. It would obviously require a group of people to write the manual, and then an examining body to put together the course material. I don’t think this will become a degree in PMO followed by a Masters in PMO, but something more flexible that our current PM and PMO training that exists.

P3O and Beyond

As a follow up from my last post on the future of the P3O I attended the PMO flashmob to hear what Eileen Roden had to say. You can find the full write-up here, but I thought I would give my perspective on the matter.

After a brief career history from Eileen on how she had become the author of the P3O manual, we separated into groups to look at what PMOs had stopped doing, were being asked to do more of and where staring to be asked to do. The full write-up is on the flashmob site.

What I took from the meeting was that some things had changed for the PMOs, and we were moving away from being secretaries and admin people, as shown in the balance of the individuals in the room, there was a fair split between males and females. When I first started in PMOs about 20 years ago there were many more females than males in the profession and those males that were there saw it as a pathway to doing something else.

The role was starting to form as there were many things in the PMOs can do category, with more being added all the time. However there was no real agreement in what a PMO can do in the future.

I was therefore disappointed in the flashmob as it didn’t tell me what I wanted to hear, which was where are PMOs going, what is the vision that we need to aspire to, who are the thought leaders in the field of PMOs. It was quite clear from the people I spoke to during the event, and afterwards in the more social surroundings of the local pub, that most PMOs are struggling to get on with the day job and can’t think about what is happening this afternoon let alone where will PMOs go in 20 months let alone 20 years.

I am not sure based on the output of the flashmob whether there is anything that can be used and taken forward as what a PMO should do, as it did seem to link into the maturity of the organisation, the competence of the individuals within the PMO and project management community. What was obvious though is that a lot activities nowadays are being managed as a project within organisations, so the need for Project Managers and PMOs to support them and the organisation is required.

PMOs are here to stay, we just need the individuals within them to become better in understanding the organisations they work within and therefore how the PMO can transform the organisation.