This year's main theme:

PMO as a Change Agent


Interview with Paul Hodgkins

To help everyone better know our Speakers, we decided to do a small interview with all of them. The interview is centered around PMO, and will show different approach of each of our Speakers to this subject.

We chose 5 questions for our Speakers to answer:

1. Why PMOs takes various forms in organizations?

2. What is your main argument for creating PMO; why organizations should implement PMO ideas?

3. What key competencies make a good PMO Manager?

4. You need to gain support for a new PMO or new process originating in the PMO, who is your first port of call and how do you gain their support?

5. How do you show the benefit and value the PMO brings to the organization?


Paul Hodgkins, the first of our Speakers who we interviewed, gave us very deep response for every question we asked him.  Paul stated that “Some people and organisations can consider establishing a PMO to be a 'simple solution' when in reality, they are created to address complex challenges.  They also consider, that if someone is a good project manager, they will be a good PMO manager/leader, which is not always the case (but it does depend on what challenge the PMO is trying to address also).”.

1. Why PMOs takes various forms in organizations?

There is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to PMO’s.  They can range from simple project support offices, providing reporting and ‘basic’ services to project teams and project managers, through to influencing the selection, prioritization and determination of projects and programs that will set the strategic direction for the entire organization. 

They can also be the vital link between strategy development at board level and implementation at operational level.  Increasingly they are becoming the catalyst for organizational change by analyzing and synthesizing project and program information, anticipating what ‘is ahead’ and anticipating the organizational and operational changes that will be needed.

The key reason PMO’s take various forms in organizations and one size does not fit all, is because each organization will have asked itself a different set of questions in response to its specific challenges when compared to another.


2. What is your main argument for creating PMO; why organizations should implement PMO ideas?

In many ways this is linked to question 1 above.  When it comes to projects, programs and organizational change through programs, simply “getting the job done” will not enable the organization to sustain organizational growth, or achievement of its broader objectives.

In order to achieve growth, organizations must be nimble, have agility and seize whatever opportunities they can to ensure, firstly consistency and optimization of project and program approaches and then to build clear competitive differentiation through the projects and programs managed, whilst at the same time, minimizing the opportunity for unplanned risk. 

In a sense, this is all about appropriate and effective governance as to how projects, programs and project and program managers can differentiate their organizations from those of their competitors by driving business success through a consistent and professional set of delivery and operational practices that create value for the organization and its customers.


3. What key competencies make a good PMO Manager?

Again, this is linked to question 1; it really depends on the type of PMO being implemented and at what ‘hierarchical’ level in an organization.  The first thing I would say is that the PMO manager in fact needs to be a PMO leader!

Generically, they need to have good business acumen; they need to be able to anticipate and be excellent in stakeholder engagement.  They need to have broad and strong leadership capability and be able to inspire their team/s to achieve greater and enhanced levels of success.  They need to have a good understanding of organizational and strategic change and be comfortable in leading their teams through ambiguity and uncertainty.

They must be resilient, be determined and have strong gravitas in the organization; someone who is respected and liked is ideal; but always better to be respected if not liked and so, someone who has courage and conviction to ‘make it work’ even when other are saying ‘it is not working’.

They must have excellent communication ability and be able to ‘manage’ across all organizational levels.

A background in project, program and/or portfolio management is valuable, but in my opinion not crucial; the crucial thing is to ensure the PMO is made up of those staff who have the competence and capability needed to provide the services and who can be the ‘subject matter experts’. 

The role of the PMO leader is to lead, not do.  If the leader does the doing, then the chances are he or she will miss the ‘bigger picture’. 

“You cannot see the pattern if you study the stich” and so the leader must constantly be thinking, how the PMO needs to evolve in order to address challenges, the organization does not know it has yet and by doing so, it will create an advantage by anticipating what will happen ‘tomorrow’ and addressing it ‘today’.


4. You need to gain support for a new PMO or new process originating in the PMO, who is your first port of call and how do you gain their support?

This again depends on what the process is, or the challenge establishing a PMO is trying to address within a business.

It also links to the last paragraph of answer 3).  If the PMO is able to show it has anticipated a future challenge and wishes to change a process or indeed, to evolve itself to overcome that challenge, if it is able to articulate a clear and compelling vision as to why this support is needed; it will be obtained.

My experience has told me that it is not that the PMO did not have a genuine reason for change as to why it was not able to gain support, but that the PMO was not able to articulate clearly a compelling ‘argument’ or rationale.

5. How do you show the benefit and value the PMO brings to the organization?

Have clear KPI’s which are operationally focused, but which can be shown to link directly to support of business strategy.  Ensure they support organizational imperatives and also the values of the organization.  Do not have too many KPI measures, but equally do not have too few.  Keep them simple, focused and actionable.

The benefits need to be clearly articulated and agreement reached on how they will be measured and reported and at what level and at what frequency and why they will be reported at what level and what frequency.  The KPI’s should always be reviewed against organizational values and goals and the strategic direction of the organization and the PMO should not be afraid to adapt its measures in line with any changes as a result.

Most importantly, allow time for the improvement to ‘come through’; establishing a PMO today and expecting an improvement tomorrow is unrealistic.

Many organizations do not give enough time for a PMO to make its mark within an organization and decide to scale them back, or worse still, close them down, before they have been able to show the positive impact they have had.

Communicate the success stories the PMO makes; look for quick wins but also longer term goals and tell others what has been achieved; often enough that the momentum is kept, but not so often the organization becomes ‘overloaded’ with PMO information and communication.

It can often be the case that the PMO was ‘scaled back’ just at the moment it was about to reach its ‘tipping point’ in making a long, lasting and positive difference.

If the PMO gets their KPI’s and communication of success right, they will ensure they are not one of those.


Interviews with the rest of our speaker will be posted gradually until the event, so take a look on our webpage every day!

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