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The Coal Authority - FuturePMO 2018

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The Coal Authority - FuturePMO 2018

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Presented by Alicia Eason-Smith, PMO Manager, The Coal Authority
Presentation Synopsis: “If no mistake you have made, yet losing you are, a different game you should play” Master Yoda

Setting up a PMO is easy. Delivering the benefits of a PMO is not. If you don’t deliver benefit, the business will at best question your existence and at worst, forget you exist. Our PMO journey has been bumpy, from a positive start, to a questionable mid-section (much like the Star Wars franchise) through to an optimistic future. We face a challenge familiar to all, that of reinventing our PMO to suit the changing business environment and continuing to demonstrate value. Although our organisation is small we run a diverse range of projects, from large scale mine water treatment schemes to software development that supports our mining reports business. The PMO has to adapt and reinvent itself to accommodate the different types of project, and the stresses of business change, yet at the same time guide the business – sometimes encouraging them to adopt best practice they didn’t know they needed!

Through a case study of our own organisation, this presentation looks at how the key to a lasting, successful PMO implementation is culture change to engender support from the business you are serving, and above all, the need for championship at an executive level. We examine how if those vital ingredients are missing, the business won’t fully understand how to place a PMO, promote it, or leverage the capability within it.

Presented by Alicia Eason-Smith, PMO Manager, The Coal Authority
Presentation Synopsis: “If no mistake you have made, yet losing you are, a different game you should play” Master Yoda

Setting up a PMO is easy. Delivering the benefits of a PMO is not. If you don’t deliver benefit, the business will at best question your existence and at worst, forget you exist. Our PMO journey has been bumpy, from a positive start, to a questionable mid-section (much like the Star Wars franchise) through to an optimistic future. We face a challenge familiar to all, that of reinventing our PMO to suit the changing business environment and continuing to demonstrate value. Although our organisation is small we run a diverse range of projects, from large scale mine water treatment schemes to software development that supports our mining reports business. The PMO has to adapt and reinvent itself to accommodate the different types of project, and the stresses of business change, yet at the same time guide the business – sometimes encouraging them to adopt best practice they didn’t know they needed!

Through a case study of our own organisation, this presentation looks at how the key to a lasting, successful PMO implementation is culture change to engender support from the business you are serving, and above all, the need for championship at an executive level. We examine how if those vital ingredients are missing, the business won’t fully understand how to place a PMO, promote it, or leverage the capability within it.

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The Coal Authority - FuturePMO 2018

  1. 1. The Coal Authority
  2. 2. Alicia Barlow Stuart Clarke The Coal Authority
  3. 3. Our purpose As a non-departmental public body of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), we provide services to governments, public bodies, private organisations and landowners. We also regulate the coal industry in Britain and manage the long term mining legacy approaching £3 billion.
  4. 4. • Portfolio Management & Governance – to ensure right projects, efficiently progressed • Project & Programme Management (P2M) Regime – to ensure consistent, • P3M Office – to support and sustain the Portfolio, Programme & Project • Project Management Tool (MSPE) – to support the above, improve • Project Management Community – to develop the expertise of all ‘project 2014 – A New Hope
  5. 5. • Get your ‘offline’ processes right • Educate your project people • Gain credibility • SMART goals/blueprint/ToM • Use the right resources for your implementation • Engaged sponsor and business champions 2014 to 2016 - Lessons Learned
  6. 6. Were we successful? The Phantom Menace!• Following a re-org, PMO was ‘buried’ in Finance • Challenge of multiple tools/methodologies (Agile) • Reduced capacity made it difficult to deliver further improvements • Perception that the PMO provided little of extra value • Disheartening for those trying to deliver PMO services
  7. 7. Were we successful? The good stuff! • Project plans with baselines, resources, highlight reports and risk registers • Company wide capacity planning • Expectation of a what a PM skill set involves • Improving project and programme control • An appreciation of what it takes to be better
  8. 8. 2018 onwards – The Force Awakens! • New sponsorship • More resources to deliver PMO functions • More realistic delivery timescales Portfolio Office Corporate Programme Office Operational Programme Office
  9. 9. Key challenges • PMO resource is ring fenced for PMO activity • Portfolio Office remain closely aligned with the executive management team • Blueprint defined and agreed • PMO is seen to be adding value • Sponsor engagement
  10. 10. Thank you

Editor's Notes


  • Our 50% delivery crept up to about 80% and as a consequence we fell into a vicious cycle.

    Our sponsor, who believed in a PMO but needed some guidance, was not getting the steer he needed because we didn’t have the capacity, so he was therefore unable to give the PMO the attention and support it required. Without evident sponsor support, we were loosing visibility and credibility. We didn’t have the success record or authority we needed when asking teams to change their practice.

    We struggled to define a PMO charter because we could not get enough traction with the project teams to define what services they needed or what we could offer that was of benefit. That, and the demands of project delivery, made it difficult to establish PMO roles, so we struggled to form and maintain an identity as a team and as PMO professionals.

    Often staff didn’t understand why they needed to change their practice – they were delivering successfully after all.

    You might be thinking – if they were delivering, why bother having a PMO, if no one wants what you are selling, why not just give up?

    We knew that projects were being delivered without plans, or without baselines, so of course anything can seem successful if you have nothing to measure it against.

    In April 2014 we produced a business case asking for more support. This is what our business case said the PMO was going to deliver.

    let them read

    We said with some help, we could deliver all of this in 15 months.

    Again this proved to be overambitious because the demands of project management did not go away. There was a perception that PMO was a delivery function and we were seen as free project managers or free project support, and this (tool deployment) soon absorbed every spare bit of capacity.

    So what did we do? We put Portfolio Management and PM community on the shelf – there was no appetite.

    We produced a simple lifecycle (point to regime) and a set of simple rules for all projects to follow (learn these).

    And of course we introduced a PM tool - Project Web App or Project Online as it is now called.

    We had an office which basically administered and managed Project Web App.

    I’d like to talk a bit more detail about the tool implementation.
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