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9 Ways to Sustain PMO Success

Blog post
By Pam Ashby | 13 June 2017

When John McIntyre, Head of PMO at Ticketmaster, refers to an ‘Agile PMO’ he makes it clear that it’s the philosophy he’s talking about and not a specific framework or method. He was speaking at the 2017 PMO Conference, and sharing his insights and experience from five years heading up project management for the world's leading live entertainment company.

He points out that setting up a PMO is one thing, but there are key actions that increase the chances of making it a sustainable and long term success:

  1. Focus on communication – where communication is strong, PMOs can break down departmental silos and help people to learn from each other. Keeping in regular contact with all stakeholders also ensures that the benefits delivered by the PMO remain visible to senior executives.
  2. Declutter to delight your sponsor – an Agile viewpoint encourages ‘decluttering’ PMO services that don’t delight the customer. “It pays to be ruthless” advises John.
  3. Cut unnecessary reporting – the transparency that’s inherent in an Agile approach, supported by the functionality of today’s software tools, should mean that stakeholders have easy access to the information they need, when they need it. Reporting can then be culled back to summary and reference level.
  4. Recognise what’s important today (not yesterday, or the day before) – a PMO seeks to match its capability to the needs of the business. Agile thinking recognises that business needs change – not only in line with an annual planning cycle, but day by day, and perhaps hour by hour. The priorities that were important to your organisation last year, may not be today and so a PMO has to recognise new problems as they appear and evolve to meet the needs of a constantly changing business context.
  5. Connect and collaborate – connecting diverse professionals with different skill sets in collaborations such as ‘Hackathons’ can solve customer problems in creative ways. Involving the senior team means they can be ‘shown’ solutions, rather than having them described on paper. 
  6. Empower and innovate – consider a network of innovation champions to highlight the need for creating new and more efficient routes and resisting the temptation to stick to the well trodden paths.
  7. Make small incremental changes – in a world where we need to do more with less, small incremental changes can be very powerful and provide immediate benefit to the business, particularly where the entire scope of a change cannot be delivered straightaway.
  8. Coach rather than control – an Agile philosophy is one of empowerment and autonomy, rather than command and control. John suggests that some project teams may progress more effectively with a ‘project coach’ rather than a ‘project manager’. This embeds new skills, as well as improving motivation and job satisfaction.
  9. Recognise when problems are ‘solved enough’ – Agile philosophy recommends that further investment in a problem should stop when it’s sufficiently resolved. It’s important to identify where the balance of effort and resource against business value lies. When the business derives the benefit it needs to move forward, stop, and move on to the next challenge.

With these and other guidelines from his Ticketmaster experience, John McIntyre painted a picture of a PMO that is the ‘go to’ team for project enablement. A PMO that continually evolves to meet new and varied challenges, and one that continues to deliver the goal that lies at the core of all Agile thinking – a delighted customer.


The 2018 Agile Business Conference is on 26 & 27 September in London.

There’s more from John McIntyre at www.hotpmo.com

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