The role of the PMO is one that frequently sees change. In recent years organisations have been adapting and evolving their management practices from traditional methodologies in keeping up to date with the changing landscape.
Andy Almenara is Head of PMO at SBS and is responsible for strategy development, project delivery, and portfolio governance within the Technology division. He leads a team of Project Managers, Business Analysts, and Change & Communications Specialists to deliver projects spanning IT, broadcast, digital, and business transformation.
We spoke to Andy Almenara, Head of PMO at SBS, to gain an understanding on the role of the PMO. Here are his insights:
What are the effective leadership skills for a good PMO leader?
Leadership can be defined as the ability of an individual to influence, motivate and enable others to contribute toward the effectiveness and success of the organisation. This is at the heart of why a PMO exists, but also where many PMOs get it so wrong. If projects are mechanisms for change, and change is necessary to sustain and enhance an organisation’s success, then the PMO needs to be viewed as the ‘safe pair of hands’ that helps the organisation to deliver and transition change successfully.
Business stakeholders need to be able to trust that the PMO understands what success looks like, from the business perspective, and that it can competently execute that outcome. Trust is not granted by authority, it is developed over time and requires PMO leaders to be highly effective at establishing and building long-lasting interpersonal relationships at every level of the organisation. To achieve this, good PMO leaders require exceptional communication skills, high emotional intelligence, and the ability to facilitate successful outcomes from any given situation.
“Effective leadership is about what you do, not what you know.”
Leaders are assessed by the behaviours they consistently display over time, not the concepts in their head. If done well, this will result in stakeholders viewing the PMO as the lighthouse in a stormy sea, rather than the jagged rocks creating yet another obstacle to avoid.
How do you operate successfully with effective influence?
Operating with effective influence requires regular and ongoing contact with key stakeholders in order to remain aligned with what’s working well, and what could be working better. Fostering a feedback-rich environment with those that you service, and those that work with you, helps to maintain strong relationships based on authentic collaboration and trust.
If you are to influence others you need to create a strong bond with them. The stronger the bond, the stronger the relationship will be and the greater degree of positive influence you can exert over the other person. For business stakeholders, this encourages closer collaboration, particularly around problem solving. For direct reports, this leads to higher performance through improved employee engagement and greater discretionary effort.
How do you measure PMO success?
First and foremost, PMO success is measured by the value that the PMO creates, as perceived by those that the PMO is meant to service and support. This is fairly easy to evaluate anecdotally, assuming of course that you are fairly observant and self-aware. If the PMO is actively sought out by those in the business for direction, support, or simply just advice, then chances are you’re doing something right. Personal brand is an important factor here, not only that of the PMO leader but also of the entire PMO team. If brand is what people say about you when you leave the room, then you’d hope that others in the business see the PMO as a force for good.
Some PMO’s take a wrong turn in their evolution and begin to believe that their purpose is to save the business from itself. They attempt to achieve this through rigid process controls and compliance assurance. This is a certain path to redundant oblivion for any PMO. Ultimately PMO’s transact in confidence, which is increased by delivering predictability of outcome and a track record for driving continuous improvement.
What are the PMO strategies that SBS uses?
At SBS, the PMO supports strategy development and execution through portfolio planning, prioritisation, business analysis, project delivery, and change management. PMO personnel also operate as relationship managers across different areas of the business, and are assigned to maintain close working relationships with key stakeholders. This relationship-building interaction ensures ongoing alignment, and helps to provide early insight into any business pain points or potential new initiatives that the PMO may be able to proactively support.
Don’t miss Andy Almenara’s session on ‘How to influence & achieve success through effective leadership’ at the 5th Annual PMO Leadership Conference 2019 on the 26th & 27th of February in Sydney.