the learning pmo (uk pmo conf 2016)

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  • The Learning PMOGarret Beggan

    Deberiat

    (Session and speaker introduction given by Eileen Roden)

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  • Garret BegganTransformational Change, PMO and

    Governance specialist

    Deberiat

    My name is Garret Beggan

    I started in the Automotive Business, working in dealership quality

    Wandered into IT, then PM, then PMO

    Sort of accidentally got into PMO after fiercely resisting it, because I thought PMO meant boring admin. But now staying here is a deliberate act

    Reason: Ive found a way for a PMO to make a difference, by doing the following:

    - Looking very clear-headedly at the projects landscape

    - Deciding what problems were going to solve

    - Giving projects and programmes the best chance to succeed

    - NOT just measuring them to within an inch of their lives and loading them down with reports

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  • Its a also lot harder to retain focus on todays in-flight programmes and at the same time work out whats a priority to improve now, or whats OK now but will need upgrading next year.

    Operational focus

    Outside the Box

    15 years ago, every other job ad was looking for people to think outside the box

    Inside the box

    I used to think can we just concentrate on finding people who can think inside the box? it seemed simple enough to me at a project scale, but plenty of people werent doing it.

    The box keeps getting bigger

    Now many organisations are working at a programme or portfolio scale and theres a lot more to think about inside a bigger box. Even the best PMOs are missing chunks of it.

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    What use is thinking outside the box

    ..if we havent really mastered inside the box?

    15 years ago, every other job ad was looking for people to think outside the box

    I used to think can we just concentrate on finding people who can think inside the box? it seemed simple enough to me at a project scale, but plenty of people werent doing it.

    Now many organisations are working at a programme or portfolio scale and theres a lot more to think about inside a bigger box. Even clever and well-informed people are missing chunks of it.

    Its also a lot harder to retain focus on todays in-flight programmes and at the same time work out whats a priority to improve now, or whats OK now but will need upgrading next year.

    So rather than smugly expecting people to master whats inside the box, I have found it useful to harness lessons learned from delivery (or upfront selection, or post-launch operation) and use the learning PMO to support continuous improvement.

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  • Keep it realContinuous improvement of what?

    Thinking ToolsCreate your own

    PMO ideas toolkit

    The PMO as CoECentre of Excellence for

    Portfolio, programme and/or project management

    Start where you are(Where else can you start from anyway?)

    If we are to make continuous improvement real, we need to know what concrete thing we are going to make better. Im going to share a framework of key items I have found give a comprehensive foundation.

    Im going to describe using four powerful techniques to develop and improve the framework, one reactive and three proactive.

    This approach is most practical to the PMO actingas CoE. But since I developed it in an operational PMO, I think any PMO that will live through several projects should be able to do something similar.

    We can start where we are and build a continuousimprovement loop into the way we work. This is an approach that uses common sense and its main tools are things that many PMOs already do to some extent.

    So how can we get a learning PMO off the ground?

    What Im going to share now is an approach to allow people to start where they are (where else?) and build a continuous improvement loop into the way they work. What I like about this approach is that it uses common sense and its main tools are things that many PMOs already do to some extent.

    It follows that this approach is most practical for the PMO acting as a CoE (Centre of Excellence) for programme management or portfolio management. But since I developed it in a temporary although multi-year Programme Management Office, I think any PMO with a reasonable prospect of living through several projects should be able to do something along these lines.

    Im going to describe using four powerful techniques to improve the framework, one reactive, which Ill cover in detail, and three proactive.

    And since if we are to make continuous improvement real, its good to know what concrete thing we are going to improve, Im going to share a framework of key items I have found give a comprehensive foundation.

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  • 1st Reactive TechniqueHarnessing Lessons Learned

    Lessons Learned: the anti-party drudgery you have to do to be allowed the REAL party)

    Afterwards who remembers either of them?

    Hands up who has ever started a project or programme by digging out other peoples lessons learned?

    Lets look in detail at turning lessons learned into lessons applied

    Remember, often only the PMO is going to live through project after project in the same organisation, so we are the ones who can make a difference!

    Turning lessons learned into lessons applied

    It used to be that at the end of every project, the 2 certainties were the Party (yay!) and the lessons leaned session (boo! The anti-party, the drudgery you have to do to be allowed the party)

    Afterwards both are filed away in the dusty recesses of individual memories (or police reports, if either goes badly enough).

    Hands up who has done a PM or PgM role. Have you ever started a project or programme by digging out other peoples lessons learned? To my shame, I have very rarely done this! Usually we start a programme already on the back foot and fighting to get the first deliverables out.

    So lets look in detail at turning lessons learned into lessons applied using something more practical than the sweet hope that Gee, I hope we change the mentality of PMs everywhere, because that just isn't going to happen.

    By the way, Im going to assume here that when we capture lessons learned, we add them into some kind of log or spreadsheet so they are available for review.

    Remember, often only the PMO is going to live through project after project performing the same role in the same organisation, so we are the ones who can make a difference!

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  • Methodology: make it very hard for people to misssomething or do the wrong thing by updatingtemplates, how to guides and worked examples

    Choose 1 key document per lifecycle phase andupdate the template with a lessons appliedsection where the PM describes how he/ she is

    going to avoid bad thing/ repeat the good thing learned

    Gateways & Governance: have the right person ask the right question, and share why the answer is important. The responses need to be evidenced

    (right artefact, right assurance, right standard)

    The 3 useful places to turn Lessons Learned into Lessons Applied

    The best homes I have found to turn lessons learned into lessons applied are:

    1. Methodology: Prevent problems by making it very hard for people to miss something or do the wrong thing by updating templates, how to guides and worked examples so the way we do things here includes steps that incorporate the lessons learned. We can use a collateral tracker or process library to track the completeness of the methodology over time, starting with a high-level process and rounding it out with templates, detailed guides and worked examples.

    2. Gateways: Detect problems by having the right person ask the right question, and share why the answer is important.

    The response needs to be evidenced by the right artefact validated by the right assurance to have reached the right standard.

    3. Dedicated lessons applied section in key documents: Prevent problems by having the PM propose how to avoid a bad outcome or repeat a good one

    1 key doc per phase youll need to update the templatePM describes how he/she is going to avoid bad thing/ repeat good thingThe weakest of the 3 responses, so only use where no adequate response possible in the first 2.Consider assessing the lessons applied section as a gateway criterion, so it gets expert scrutiny.

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  • Lifecycle phases(even for agile)

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    Artefacts per phase

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    Swimlanes across phases owned by capability leads

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    Drive success factor questions back as early

    as you can

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    Dont be afraid to tailor and be pragmatic

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    Include some observations on sizing

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    Outcome: lessonsbecome better templates,

    how to process guides& worked examples.

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    The next program isgoing to have to try

    harder to get it wrong!

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    A closer look at Methodology

    The first of these 3 homes for lessons applied is Methodology. Why? Because well use it to guide people so we prevent a problem arising in the first place. People can get hung up on Methodology. There isnt one right way to do it. I want to share what Ive found useful. Its useful to define a lifecycle because usually we have to do some form of the classic Analyse/ Design/ Build/ Test/ Launch routine, even if we shake them up a bit in Agile. And we learn by experience that the foundations of failure in any phase are often set in a previous phase. Then we can say in this phase we should agree the scope and baseline it; in the next we should have process designs or building designs, and in the phase following that we should have test checklists and write the training materials Now heres a big thing: a lot of off-the-shelf methodologies are really hot on what Prince2 would call