Transferable skills

Recently I started a new role as Secretary for my local football club and it got me thinking about how

 

transferable skills are from one role to another. Here are my thoughts on some of these skills which get used in a PMO role that I am using with my new secretary role

Stakeholder management

CAFC Logo

This one often appears on the job descriptions for roles, but what does this really mean? Does it mean putting a stakeholder map together and working out your comms to (and from) those people? Or does it mean getting on with people. Within my new role I have a variety of stakeholders. There is the rest of the executive committee, all of the youth coaches, the FA, the leagues that the teams compete within, the parents, the supporters. Each of these stakeholders come with a different set of challenges. And although I admit I haven’t formally done my stakeholder mapping I am using my knowledge of how to do this to understand what they all want and how I can best go about giving that to them, whilst still ensuring that the club don’t sway in the wind as we try and be all things to all people

Configuration management

Something that is the bane of a lot of PMOs, sometimes referred to as document management. As we have around 260 youth players spread across different age groups from U6 to U18 it is important that we keep on top of who those players are, ensuring they are registered with the appropriate leagues (otherwise they can’t play a competitive game of football) and have paid for the privilege (registering with the league costs money).

Planning/Scheduling

Whilst I am not going to get an MS project plan out in an Exec committee meeting (see the comment above about understanding your stakeholders) I am using my knowledge of how to put a plan together to ensure that when there is something needing to be done that it gets broken down into smaller chunks, we assign milestones (deliverables) and we assign individuals to those tasks, with a timeline that they need to complete this in. That then gets tracked against to ensure we are on track and if necessary the plans adjusted

Meetings

It is well known that PMOs get involved in lots of meetings just because they need someone to take the minutes. And yes being secretary does involve lots of meetings with the Exec Committee, youth coaches etc. All of these need to be organised, attended and minutes taken. I think this is an area that lots of people overlook. In fact I think its so important that last year, along with a colleague I delivered a course on PMOs & Meetings

Other skills

I am sure I could write more about all of the other skills, primarily the behavioural skills that I have picked up as a PMO that I am using within my new role. It just goes to prove that despite recruiters asking for a perfect fit for their organisation (if they know what that is) that actually people from a variety of backgrounds could come in and have the skills they are looking for, regardless of whether they have done so in the same context.

What other skills do you feel are transferable? Leave a comment below

PMO Contractor Workshop

PMO Contractor Workshop

I had the pleasure of attending the first PMO contractor workshop last week run by a new start up PMO learning. It was an opportunity to review the place of the CV for contractors looking for their next assignment. There was an interesting mix of people at the event, and yes, I took some of the learning to heart and linked-in with them afterwards.

Unlike a traditional training session where you sit there and try to work out how boring the presentation is on a scale of 1 to zzzz and look for spelling mistakes; Lindsay instead made it an interactive session and had spent some time personalising the session so that when references were made it involved looking at CVs or experience of one of the people in the session. This made it particularly relevant, and personal.

If you want to find out what the session was billed as containing, then you can check out the original article which prompted me to attend in the first place. The session itself was well paced, although there was a lot more that could have been covered in these sessions, depending on the attendees I am sure it will be adjusted for each session they deliver in future.

There were 3 main themes – why contracting? what makes a good CV? networking

Why contracting?

I know why I made the jump from being a permanent person through to being a contractor, and no it wasn’t the money. Lindsay went through a series of other questions you need to ask yourself before you bite the bullet and make the switch. If it is just about the money you may find yourself disappointed, and unfulfilled.

Lindsay covered what other things you should be thinking about as a contractor. Were you a jobbing contractor or a consultant, and did you know the difference between these 2 roles

For me one of the interesting quotes from this session was if we are all running a limited company, then why weren’t we managing things as a small business and advertising. Which brought us nicely onto

What makes a good CV?

This section allowed us to review our own CVs, therefore a working laptop with a copy of your CV was needed, and the ability to copy to USB disks (so don’t bring any locked down work laptop for this section). We also looked at how you could structure the PMO CV, with a couple of good examples were shared. How did we know they were good? Well the PMO Flashmob attendees voted on them, along with why they thought they were good.

We discussed length, and whether to use the same CV for everything (erm No).

That then linked along to whether you put your CV onto Linked In

Networking

The answer was no. Linked In should be used as your primary networking vehicle (at least online), but Twitter (#PMOT) is another way we can find out what people are doing across the PMO world. Of course, if you liked meeting real people then you can always try the PMO Flashmob sessions (Last Thursday in the month in London, other UK places check out the website)

We discussed what we should be using Linked In for, and the answer was creating articles (like this one (Yes, I did create this deliberately as a result of this session)). You could always post them on Linked in, but perhaps the best way is to write them on your blog (like this one) and then post them on Linked in and Twitter. If you don’t feel like doing that then Lindsay suggested things we could do

In Summary

It doesn’t matter what you know, or who you know, there is always room for improvement and it is good to keep learning.

I thought this was a great session. As it was a trial I am hoping (for your sakes) that there will be more in future. As you can see I haven’t given too much away as otherwise that will spoil the surprise for future attendees.

Thanks Lindsay for a great session, and thanks to my fellow attendees for some great questions and insights.

Can PMOs make more effective use of social networks and virtual communications to increase their influence and knock down barriers?

Another question from the PMO SIG conference.

One of the things that a PMO should be doing is linking up to others as that is how they can get involved with what the organisation is trying to achieve via the projects and programmes. Some of the better PMOs I know are effective because they know ‘stuff’.

It therefore makes sense for the PMO to get involved in social networks such as PMO Flashmob, APM PMO SIG, linked in discussions and Twitter (#PMOT) to see what the profession is doing and saying. There are a lots of good sources out there which have advice and studies that a PMO can pick up and try to apply in their own organisation. Not all of these can be applied, nor should they, but it is about sitting through the mass of material that exists and helping the organisation understand and process this that is where the PMO will add benefit

In order to increase the knowledge in the world of PMO I therefore encourage all PMOs to contribute to a virtual social network and challenge received wisdom. By questioning and having a willingness to learn, all individuals in a PMOs will improve and be able to add the mythical value that is the holy grail for PMOs

What are the implications for the roles, skills and competencies of the person who works in a PMO of the future

Another question from the PMO SIG conference. Or to reword this in another way, what skills will be needed in the next 5 or 10 years from the PMO and how will social be involved in this.

In order to look forward sometimes it is worth looking back on what we have already done and where the PMO has got to. Over the past 10 years we have seen a transformation in the worth of the PMO. The PMO started out as an administrator helping the project manager with the filing of documentation and updating of risk and issue logs, with dedicated Poole helping out with planning. Over the intervening years they have moved up to be first programme office and then portfolio office. Doing this has increased their visibility and worth within the organisations for which they work. I certainly see more people coming into the role and staying there rather than just passing through.

Having looked back where will the PMO go? The easiest answer to this is where the organisation wants it to. There will certainly still be a need for the project and programme office roles. Where the development should be is in the portfolio office and the centre of excellence roles.

For the portfolio office the PMO needs to aid their organisations to translate the strategy to the delivery, a role that is missing in most organisations I come across. This doesn’t mean that organisations don’t do projects or don’t have a strategy, it’s more that organisations are unable to see how to turn dreams into reality (or strategy to delivery if you want to be a bit less prosaic). In order to do this the PMO will need to understand the business they work for (this may require permanent roles to do the rather than contact roles). They will need to build up the connections within the business to enable the decisions to get made, which will mean the PMO becoming more social, engaging with all parts of the business and building up the contacts they have. This is an extension of what PMOs currently do, although they would need to speak to more CxO individuals.

For the Centre of Excellence role then the PMO will need to embrace new standards/concepts above and beyond the traditional PRINCE2, AXELOS standards such as lean, change management and agile enabling the organisation to operate these methods in a way that fit their business and enable the organisation to understand when projects are in control and when they are not. This will mean that PMOs may need to become more pragmatic in how the rules are applied.

With the rise of project management roles there will be a rise in PMO roles. We will finally start to be in a position that no project or programme will be started without the support of a PMO and that the strategy department will start to incorporate the portfolio office within its midst. At that point we won’t have the debate about why have a PMO, but more on how effective PMOs have been in transforming and streamlining the internal business model and processes.

Will the roles of the PMO analyst and reporter be redundant in an on-demand real time data-rich environment

Another question from the PMO SIG event.
One of the stops on the PMO maturity train is the desire to move to one central source of truth, so the organisation installs a centralised database where all of the data that a PMO used to spend time collecting is now stored in one place. This includes schedules, finances, risks, issues, changes, documentation, progress, benefits. The exact list depends on the technical solutions chosen and the licence that the organisation has paid for.
Having installed the tool with the desire that the senior management are able to get real-time on-demand information, what happens? In my experience the senior management don’t change the behaviours and ask for the information to be sent to them. Even in organisation’s which include time recording it is typically someone lower down the hierarchy who inputs the senior management time, or they are exe lets from having to use the tool. By the time the data is entered and available (in real-time of course) you then need the senior manager to reset their password (normally spelt Password) and the be explain how to view the data.
The other issue is that although the data can be presented in real-time, the data, especially time sheets or progress reports are entered on a timetabled basis, so looking at them more frequently that that becomes futile. Imaging getting the Sunday papers, reading them one Sunday and having a look at them on Wednesday and wonder why nothing has changed (expect someone has half filled the crossword in)
Another issue and is it where the PMO Is expected to perform their role, is that the data that goes into the tool is just that data. What the PMO provides, or should provide, is information. Having someone analyse the data and turn that into something that can be used to make decisions is important.
The PMO can verify the information entered into the system is actually correct (a report looks much better without the typos and abbreviations). They can validate that something entered into one part of the system matches up with another part of the system e.g. If the risks are all Red, then the progress report should not have the risks as Green. If the milestone says the document is signed off, is there a copy in the document storage?
The PMO can then collate and summarise the data so that the information presented to the senior management is consistent and has sufficient commentary that it is obvious what is going on and if any actions are required what needs to happen to, by when,  by whom. Then the information becomes information rather than a gathering of data on the page.
For me a sign of a good report is one that makes the recipient take an action, even if that is to ask (demand) all the information is accurate and up to date (something that normally comes back to the Project Managers rather than the PMO)
If you want an era where senior managers get data on demand, then I suspect you will move to an era where poor decisions will be made as each person will interpret the data differently, using it to back up their own point of view.
However in an era of big data the need for analysts to interpret this and make sense of the world are needed more than ever.