My top to-do list for the PMO in the new normal

Project files on a desk at home

How has the pandemic lockdown affected the way project managers need to think about their work?

On a practical level, we are so used to being in front of our boards and PMOs to get approval and support that many have found it difficult to re-structure and adapt. Admittedly, the first couple of lockdown weeks were the worst for most before we entered a routine of sorts.

That has included the ability to interact in a digital way; something many had approached as “additional value” as opposed to the norm. Now we find that people might be stuck between being overconnected by technology while disconnected on a human level.

Thinking ahead, PMOs are now exploring how they structure work and support delivery teams to be more pragmatic and realistic when looking at future projects and programmes.

So, what do I see as top of the PMO to-do list for the new normal?

Running projects and programmes in the new normal

Organizations may have to do more with less as we approach the new normal. Projects and programmes that are under performing will not be tolerated. So, good project management – providing visibility and enabling the right decisions for the right reasons – is a key area where best practice will support the new normal.

This means having to review the way organizations teach and learn best practices: at Wellingtone, we developed our APM Accredited PMO Leader course to be based around three key pillars not normally used for traditional training methods, namely Project Based Learning (PBL), reflective practice, and critical thinking.

This approach is different because the course is not about passing an exam, but instead focuses on reality, making delegates accountable to their peers and their trainers/mentors, and provides a real change to the organization. This has now shifted again as we re-structure our courses to be delivered virtually, with trainers live in a studio so interaction can still take place.

Getting help from PRINCE2 Agile and other approaches

I think the concepts of PRINCE2 Agile® are the most useful right now. People are at home, dealing with many distractions, so taking a more agile approach with work packages (making them more digestible for example), providing clear timeboxes to enable regular touchpoints and revising what did and didn’t get done are all fundamental pieces of the puzzle.

From a project management perspective, my personal focus is based on becoming a P3M3 Assessor. This new perspective combines with the maturity work I have done before to support organizational development.

Also, with my focus on the people side of project management, I have gone back to Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) to offer mentoring and support following training. This has meant refreshing my practitioner qualification while working towards Master Practitioner.

I believe that the people side of PMO and project management is more important than ever; now we are all responsible for ourselves in our own space, our own time and have the ability to procrastinate!

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