From PMO to Portfolio Management

I’m currently working in a PMO, supporting a large program. I’d like to move into a portfolio PMO in the next few years and want advice on what I should be doing to make this a reality.

What is Portfolio Management?

The link between an organisation’s strategy and how that strategy is delivered is commonly referred to as portfolio management. It is becoming increasingly common to hear about organisations putting together a portfolio office to support this kind of activity. For people currently working within project or program offices, the portfolio office presents a new challenge because of the shift of focus.

To date, project and program offices have focused on helping these projects and programs to be delivered well. With portfolio office there is still a requirement that all our project based activity in the organisation is delivered well, it’s just that they are more concerned with making sure the right projects and programs are picked in the first place which will ultimately help deliver the organisation’s strategy.

To make the transition into portfolio office it makes sense that you will have to understand more about the business as a whole.

If portfolio management is the glue between strategy and delivery you can clearly see that the strategy side is probably the side where your skills gaps are right now.

What knowledge do I need?

This is a tricky part to try and develop because it will require more exposure to the business side rather than program/project delivery. Talk to your own manager about the situation you face and see what suggestions they might have. You may even need to consider a sideways move into a business role to help you gain relevant experience.

There is also the knowledge part of portfolio management you will have to gain. Practical skill areas will include project prioritisation; benefits management, resource management and investment appraisals. You should also be thinking about attending industry events and seminars to help you form a wider view of portfolio management and how it works in other organisations.

If you’re looking to develop such skills, a great place to start is the AXELOS Management of Portfolios (MoP®) certifications. MoP is particularly useful if you are setting up a Portfolio Office or organisation-wide PMO and are looking for best practice to inform your approach to implementation.

With both Foundation and Practitioner levels available, whether you have minimal experience of working in Portfolio Management, or for the more senior PMO practitioners it is advised that you would complete both levels – especially if your role is focused on setting up and running the Portfolio Management Office or Enterprise level PMO.

What other skills should I consider?

There is also another side to portfolio management which you need to consider which is the change in level and diversity of relationships. The portfolio office has a closer relationship to the senior executive or board levels of an organisation which will require a change in the softer skills areas than you’re currently used to. If your skills in areas such as influencing, negotiation, conflict management, and managing up need attention, now is the time to kick start that kind of development.

Finally, you need to think about where this opportunity might be for you in the future. If your current organisation is not thinking about portfolio management, now could be the time to switch to an organisation that is.

If you’re a senior member of the PMO, looking to implement effective Portfolio Management, understand what good Enterprise-Wide Portfolio Management looks like, or understand how the PMO becomes a key enabler and participant during the design, set-up and running of Enterprise-wide Portfolio Management, then you may be interested in our Unlocking Business Agility through Portfolio Management course.

This course explores the critical success factors for effective portfolio management and identifies strategies and tactics to address organisation blockers.

How Can I Apply for a Portfolio Management Role?

We have a great series of blog posts which address the different roles found in the PMO and Project Support. Take a look at our How to Apply for a Portfolio Office Manager blog, where we take a real job advertisement and break down the main responsibilities and skills for the role, as well as provide some top tips for your CV!

The MoP® courses on this page are offered by PMO Learning. MoP® is a [registered] trade mark of AXELOS Limited. MoP® is a registered trade mark of AXELOS Limited, used under permission of AXELOS Limited. All rights reserved.

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