Moving to a Portfolio PMO

I’m currently working in a PMO, supporting a large programme. 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.

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 programme offices, the portfolio office presents a new challenge because of the shift of focus.

To date, project and programme offices have focused on helping these projects and programmes 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 the portfolio office is more concerned with making sure the right projects and programmes 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. This is a tricky part to try to develop because it will require more exposure to the business side rather than programme/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. A fantastic place to start is the MoP® Foundation certification – the perfect certification for PMO practitioners with minimal portfolio management experience. The course covers the practical knowledge needed when working in a Portfolio Management Office, such as the scope of portfolio management roles, the purpose and key content of the major portfolio documents, and how to assess the success of portfolio management. Find out more about the MoP® certification suite here.

Here at PMO Learning, we also offer a specialist portfolio management – Unlocking Business Agility through Portfolio Management. This two day course explores the critical success factors for effective portfolio management and identifies strategies and tactics to address organisation blockers, as well as gives delegates the opportunity to assess how well the critical success factors are established in their organisation and identify specific actions they can take to improve them.

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 looking to move into a portfolio management role, but not sure where to begin, our PMO coaching sessions can help! We cover all aspects of a PMO career – from help in writing your CV, to adjusting to a new position. Get in touch to find out how we can help!

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