Top Tips & Lessons learnt from the Public Sector PMO conference

Aug 17
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At the end of July, senior PMO representatives from across the Australian public sector came together for two days in Sydney for the 2nd PMO Leadership conference. There was a real sense of collegiality and networking in the room as delegates shared their challenges, learnt from past mistakes and celebrated each others’ successes.

Despite the diversity of agencies and organisations, there was a lot of commonality in key issues and solutions discussed. Below is a wrap-up of some of the biggest lessons learnt from the PMO conference:

What are the top challenges facing today’s PMOs?

  • Organisational resistance to change
  • People viewing PMO processes as unnecessary overhead
  • Lack of time and resources for strategic activity
  • Demonstrating the value-add of the PMO
  • Inadequate resource management capability

Louise Gardner, Managing Director, Pledge Consulting

Where should we be focusing our efforts?

  • Talent – provide training and development opportunities in tools and techniques
  • Benefits realisation maturity – identification, realisation, sustainment
  • PMOs and  strategic EPMOs – align them to organisational strategy
  • Executive Sponsorship – the top driver in meeting project goals
  • Agile approaches – when, how and how much?

Jordon Sims, Strategic Advisor, PMI

How do you build trust with business executives

  • Make friends – If people don’t like you they are less likely to ask for your help. Say yes to the dinners. Smile a lot. 
  • Join a committee – Where ever executives are be there too. Diversity Councils, Christmas Party Committees, anything.
  •  Deliver projects – I had a small delivery team, best of the best PMs + me….move heaven and earth to make them successful.
  • Solve a problem – Find a problem they care about and solve it. Demonstrate you are capable 
  • Turn up! – Wherever executives hang out, turn up. Start of week meetings, CEO forums. Don’t dial in. Go to the room. If there is no room book a room.
  • Psychology – an understanding and interest in people is essential to finding the pathways to influence.

Alicia Aitken, former Chief Project Officer, Telstra

What are the key characteristics of an effective PMO?

  • Being a critical part of an organisation’s delivery of strategic goals and performance objectives
  • Heavy involvement in overcoming business challenges and setting directions
  • Getting stuck in to ensure projects deliver to targets with fit for purpose controls
  • Ensuring alignment to business directions by providing total oversight of the identification and delivery of Portfolio of Projects
  • Fostering collaborative approaches focused on business outcomes
  • Flexibility and adaptability

Trish Stockton, Stockton Consulting & former Director Program Services, Opal Smartcard Program

How can you start implementing new initiatives into your PMO?

  1. Find the time to:
  • Connect and collaborate
  • Attend industry forums
  • Subscribe to industry leaders
  • Get networking and find out what others are doing
  • Research the many portfolio, program and project management sites out there
  • Ask your Community of Practice if you have one
  1. Use a process
  2. Assess – make sure the trend or initiative you want to implement is fit for purpose within your organisation… otherwise it’s just another great idea!

Olga Cardillo, General Manager PMO, NSW Police

Submitted by Lauren Perry

Lauren Perry

Lauren is a conference producer at Criterion, developing conferences across the healthcare, government, not-for-profit and child welfare sectors. She has studied Social Inquiry and International Studies both in Sydney and Chile. Lauren is passionate about learning new things, sharing people’s stories and has a keen love of salsa (the dance AND the delicious dip).

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