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.

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 – 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 don’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 – 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.