Where did it all begin?

How did you get into PMOs?

I was having a chat with a few friends the other day and we were discussing how we got into PMOs, and whether that made a difference to our view of what the job was/is.

Here is my ‘origin’ story for those that care to read this sort of thing.

BeginingI came into the world of PMOs before anyone had mentioned the words Project Office. My first role as a PMO was in a KPI and controls role. At the time I was a IT developer (PL/1 and DB2 if you want to know, although I did spend a month trying to learn Fortran) and I wanted a pay rise. More specifically I wanted an upgrading. I had worked with a few people who had all gone up to the next level in the pay grades and I wanted some of that for myself. I therefore asked could I get a rise? Having got the answer no, I then looked around (internally) for other jobs and found a job I thought I was qualified to do as a KPI analyst. I did have to go and look up what a KPI was, and I think it took me a month of doing the role before I really worked that out. I applied and thankfully I was successful, so I bid the world of programming a fond farewell (although I still find myself dabbling now and again) and joined a KPI office

A KPI what?

What does (or should that be did) a KPI analyst do? It turns out the job was essentially to create and maintain a KPI dashboard. Personally, at the time I was pleased as I got access to my first proper PC, with Windows 3.1. A lovely large off-white tower of a machine. It was certainly a step up from the green screen mainframe computers I had been using



As these were the days before centralised PC management it did mean that you could install whatever you liked on the PC, if you didn’t steal the software or cause a virus outbreak. I therefore found my love of Tetris. I still think this has a place in the modern PMO. I do think that resource capacity management reports would look better if you could move the blocks around like in Tetris to make a solid line. Maybe one day


Car parking

What I found out doing this role was that the KPI office was the place that picked up all of the crap that needed to be done that no one else wanted. The couple of tasks that stick in my mind are ‘car park pass distributor’ where I was responsible for working out who could have a car parking pass (there weren’t enough for one each) based on the size of the team and working out a rota for usage. Also known as how to upset everyone all of the time. Even if there were enough passes to go around I soon realised that there was only one car parking space anyone wanted which was the one nearest the door to the building (and not only when it was raining). I thought 300 people and 100 spaces was difficult enough but 300 people and 1 space is even worse.

Health and Safety

‘COSHH’ a lovely little acronym which means Control Of Substances Hazardous to Health. As I worked for an airline at the time it was important that they took health and safety seriously. However, they decided it should apply to everyone, regardless of where they worked. In our department located in office block away from the airport and planes we had to work out what that meant. I did refuse to put up the ‘don’t run with scissors’ signs, but we did have to keep the Tippex behind a locked cupboard door just in case.


HeadhostWe got involved with the graduate intern programme, where we advertised for a series of roles and got applicants in doing their 3rd year from university in a workplace. That was great to see how not to apply for a job. People who thought working at Dixons on a Saturday qualified them to be a mainframe programmer. The people who got told to write a accompanying letter, but have worse handwriting than me. If you are that bad then type it, after all you will be working with computers. I particularly liked the one which came from a particular university which was in A3 card folded to be A4 all with a picture of the candidate. Not sure I was set on the idea at the time. Particularly for the folks who seem to have taken the picture in the dark

A brave new world

But all good things must come to an end. After about 18 months of doing this, and meeting virtually everyone in the building I got head-hunted to work on the FISS programme just as it was starting up in a new role of Project Office, although I don’t think it was called that until a year after I joined.