The Secret Behind Every Great PMO
They Know Who They Serve, and Where Their Value Comes From
After ensuring they are clear on their purpose, High Value PMOs shift their focus to better knowing their client base. Now, you may read this and think:
“But Brendon, we are just an internal unit? We don’t have any clients…”
And to that I would reply: “Nonsense!”
A High Value PMO is one that knows who it serves, and even more importantly, what their clients need.
Let’s do a quick thought experiment. First, come up with a list of the top 3 key stakeholder groups for your PMO. Common answers here are usually along the lines of ‘Executives’, ‘Project Managers’ and ‘Procurement’ — but don’t feel you need to copy these. The top 3 must be right for your organisation and context.
Next, take a moment and pivot your thinking. Try to imagine you and your PMO as a vendor, and that those three stakeholder groups are your 3 most valuable customers. Feel free to anthropomorphise these groups and turn them into customer archetypes. E.g., perhaps you have an Edwina the Executive, Peter the Project Manager and Petunia from Procurement.
Select one of your archetypes. Mentally flesh out their back story. Do your best to put yourself in their shoes. Imagine their typical day, their stressors, their successes. Then ask yourself:
“What problem(s) can your PMO solve for them?”
Don’t come up with a laundry list here — just consider the top 1–3 priorities that will have the most immediate impact.
Then, grab a sheet of paper and create 4 columns. In the first column, title it “Who Are We Serving?” and enter your archetype’s name. In the second, title it, “What Problem Are We Solving?” and list down those top 1–3 problems that your PMO can help them with.
I’ve put together an example for you below.
Now we can take it a step further. We are going to visualise what success for this archetypical client looks like. What does it mean when each of the problems we listed are solved? Have a go at describing this new reality and put it in column 3, which we will title ‘What Does Success Look Like?’. Feel free to link it up with the previous problems. I’ve done similar in the example below.
Finally, the fourth column, which we will title ‘How Does This Help Them?’, is the value this new reality will bring for this client archetype. Now there’s a little trick you can use here.
This is the spot where most of us get stuck at the superficial. So, I’ve got a little technique to help you ensure you are identifying the true value to your client. It’s just 2 simple words:
Using ‘So What’ we are able to drill down to the real core value offering. All you have to do is take one of those new realities you have listed and ask yourself ‘So What?’. To see what I mean, let’s do one together.
See how we start to get towards value here? However, ‘So What’ is most powerful when it’s used twice in quick succession, so let’s give that a shot.
Pretty cool right?
Let’s do another one together.
Here we have two points of notable value — however you may have noticed something between this example and the last. Although we started at 2 different new realities — we arrived at the same value. “Able to shift time from tactical to strategic”. This is exactly why we map this out for our clients. It shows us what the ultimate value we are providing is — and the various ways we can help them get there.
To finish off this example, after some slight rearranging, we end up with something like the figure below.
We can then repeat this process for the other 2 key client archetypes we are serving.
A few notes when creating client clarity:
- Try not to produce these value maps in isolation. It is almost always worthwhile to include actual representatives from your client groups in these value clarity exercises.
- If, throughout this process you find that your purpose no longer makes as much sense as it originally did when you drafted it — then feel free to revisit it. Working through these three clarity steps is often iterative.
Too often we jump into ‘solutionising’ our PMO without first considering what success looks like for our clients.
Is your PMO guilty of the same?
This is a excerpt from Creating High Value PMOs: Your Essential Guide.