Working in the PMO/Programme: From Client to Consultant

Kitty Ho
I have recently made the switch to providing PMO and Programme services as a consultant, having spent most of my career as the client. As with all new jobs, there’s always adjustments to adapt to the new environment.

For me, while the area of work remained the same (i.e. the framework of a PMO and Programme), the perspective and approach to how work is delivered has differed.  It has only been six months, yet I have already noticed several benefits that consultancy brings which help F+G provide/deliver a successful PMO or Programme for clients.

Firstly, you might be asking - what is a PMO?

The PMO is known as either a Project, Programme or Portfolio Management Office. Primarily, they are “a group or department within a business, agency or enterprise that defines and maintains standards for project management within the organisation.  The PMO strives to standardise and introduce economies of repetition in the execution of projects.”

This leads on to the question - what is a programme?

 “A programme is a unique and transient strategic endeavour undertaken to achieve a beneficial change and incorporating a group of related projects and business-as-usual activities.  Programme management is the coordinated management of projects and business-as-usual activities to achieve beneficial change.”

Simply, a PMO is specifically set up to define, support, and maintain the standards of individual projects which are collectively, the programme. Following a set framework the PMO will establish standards for governance, risk, and performance management etc. This will be applied and repeated on all projects, allowing projects to be executed to the same standard.

In my time with Faithful+Gould, here are some of the key benefits I have identified:

  1. We transfer real time ideas/lessons learned from working with others.

I can transfer ideas and lessons learned in real time as I work between different clients on different programmes. A simple lesson learned on one programme can lead to a real tangible benefit on another. Similarly I collaborate with colleagues from across our business working in various sectors which allows me to identify ideas they are already implementing, which can benefit my clients.  For example, whilst I worked on an audit form for one client, I noticed there was a more user-friendly format.  It was a simple step to update the formatting to adopt the better template, which demonstrated continuous improvement, best practice, efficiencies and innovative working.

  1. We design and tailor the PMO/Programme with you to deliver specific outcomes.

 There isn’t a one size fit all PMO and Programme. The framework remains the same, but the details and the outcomes are different.

I have a developed a deep appreciation for how quickly we, as consultants adapt to each client’s requirements. When developing and building a new PMO for a client, we tailor a solution around the client’s specific needs to deliver precise targeted outcomes. A recent example was where a client’s team didn’t relate to certain PMO terminologies. It was simple for our team to align our terminology to suit the clients operations, thus retaining best practice but making sure our client’s team were engaged. Drawing on the benefits we have delivered for our clients and combining our experience, knowledge, technology, and data we are able to adapt the solution to match their needs. 

  1. We have experts and experience in all aspects of the PMO.

Our team has many years of experience in developing, building, and delivering PMOs and Programmes. We’ve gained extensive experience in all aspects of the PMO, as opposed to individuals potentially becoming too specialised from working on only one aspect. Being a consultant in this field creates a wider skill set which we use to deliver a successful PMO/Programme. Utilising only in-house teams will limit the breadth of expertise available to clients.

  1. We provide best practice without the limitations of the client’s cultural behaviour.

Within the client space, it’s easy to waive or disregard an idea even though it is best practice. Basically you know that’s just not how you or others work, and there can be a lack of appetite for change.  As the consultant however, our advice and suggestions are not affected by behavioural tendencies, and we should always strive to show improvement and benefit. Our intention is to ensure the PMO/Programme is following best practice and that might mean that there’s a middle ground needed where some level of behavioural change is necessary for the client to ensure best practice is adhered to.

In summary, I believe the above four points are some of many benefits that consultancy brings to delivering a PMO/Programme. It has certainly struck a chord with me as I continue to learn and observe this new environment from a client to consultant perspective.


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