My First Time on a PMO Learning Course

A few weeks ago, I attended a PMO Learning course for the first time. Having spent a few months being introduced to PMOs from a training perspective, I knew there was a lot to learn – from the sheer number of acronyms, to the variety of services that PMOs can offer and how to put them in place.

The course I signed up for was PPSO (Project and Programme Support Office) Essentials – one of the oldest and most enduring PMO qualifications. As PMOs are becoming prevalent, the need for an entry level, project support focused certification is growing.

The thought of attending the course was nerve-wracking. I was expecting to meet a whole load of people who knew so much more than me, and who knew what they were doing.

I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of people on the course.

Being an entry level certification, it might be expected that everyone is very new to their career but in our cohort, there was much more. As well as the usual junior PMO professionals, the course is great for recent graduates, people going through a career change, or even those working in a PMO who want a practical and comprehensive guide to the basics.

PPSO Essentials starts from the very beginning, the organisational structures of projects and programmes. From there it goes on to cover the basics of project and programme lifecycles, risk management, project documentation and business cases – all neatly presented in a real-life case study, in our case, this was producing a meal of sausage and mash!

The course spans 4 days and included in that is plenty of time for discussion, exercises and group learning.

My fears were quickly reassured as the whole group were friendly and welcoming, not quite as intimidating as I’d first thought. We discussed ideal personality traits of project managers, the range of projects we all worked on, and the proper way to make mashed potato, which was more contentious than originally thought!

For many people, the PPSO Essentials course can be the first jump back into learning after finishing their education, and whether the gap has been three years or thirty, it can be terrifying. Add in the pressure of justifying the training to your manager and it’s easy to see the exam at the end of the course as a massive hurdle to overcome.

PMO Learning’s course is designed for this, with lots of time to ask questions and a sample exam; it’s impossible to walk into the exam without an idea of what is about to come and how to tackle it. We’d spent time at lunch together talking exam technique, practising the more time-consuming questions (looking at you activity diagrams!!) and after a quick exam, we ended the course with a group photograph, said goodbye and returned to our day jobs to await our exam results.

Back home, with time to reflect, it was easy to see how I could use some of the things I had learnt and use them in the context of my day job. For example, when reporting, I now know that clearer communications to various people is key, so I’ve started adding a few more visualisations and a bit more narrative in the reporting I do. The course has given me a bunch of tools and a different way of thinking about my work before I dive in and start doing something,

Did I pass? Yes! We all did.

Now, which course next. . . . . 

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