PMOs are a communication bridge between strategy planning and execution. They bring together processes, practices, methods, knowledge, and people from all over the organisation through community, learning, and continuous improvement activities.  This article is focused on managing the people side of this principle; PMO Networks.

What is a PMO network?

One of the most effective ways is to develop, maintain, and manage a network of like-minded individuals from both your internal organisation and outside.

Your PMO network will be made up of several sources:

Network Source Who are they?
Stakeholders Anyone with an interest in the PMO, its outputs, or its ways of working
Customers – Delivery Teams Anyone tasked with delivering (part of) project(s) and utilises the services of the PMO to complete their role successfully
Customers – Sponsors Anyone with a senior role who is sponsoring project (s) and requires support from PMO to make informed decisions
Team Members Anyone with a role within the PMO or those with direct links to the PMO through their day to day role
External Influencers Those external to the organisation that are considered industry Leaders who may support the PMO on an ad-hoc basis such as mentoring
Industry Acquaintances Those external to the organisation that are connected to one (or more) of the team through social media or other collaboration channels

How PMO Networks Evolve

Can your PMO handle the complexity that comes with more Stakeholders?

PMO Networks can be complicated and large or simple and small – but they all require a degree of management because as your network grows, so does the complexity of the touchpoints that exist within it.

As you can see by the demonstration, the more people we add to our network the more complex it will be and this is precisely why we need to put some management strategies in place to ensure that we aren’t trying to keep a line of sight of every conversation that is going on.

Managing PMO Networks

During our APM Accredited PMO Practitioner training course, we talk about grouping our PMO Customers together to bring some sense to the chaotic list of Stakeholders we often need to communicate with.

Harvard Business Review also talked about how Leaders build networks.

Now, to manage our PMO Network, we can utilise part of the HBR concept to bring some clarity as to why and how PMOs need to network together with the PMO Practitioner training concept to come up with a workable set of groups:

  • Delivery Teams & Managers
  • Senior Leadership
  • The Wider Business
  • External Influencers
  • Industry Acquaintances

The Importance of PMO Networks

By understanding what groups exist for your PMO Network, it is possible to define what type of contact they need to you (the PMO) and each other.

Considerations for Tailoring PMO Communication

Once groups within your network are defined consider how often you need to interact with them and what kind of interaction is needed:

  • Does your PMO strive to be part of external PMO communities through posting blogs and insights
  • What type of networking connection do you need this to be (Operational, Personal, or Strategic)?
  • Do your PMO network groups need to talk to each other to share knowledge and experience?
  • How much information does the wider business need from the PMO? How is it best to offer this information given the organisational culture?
  • Do you have influencers that you want to keep in the loop of what your PMO is doing?
  • Do you have champions or critics that require an appropriate touchpoint?

Tools for Tailoring PMO Network Touchpoints

Considering the potential for complexity, it is important to complete the following:

  • Understand the vehicles you have at your disposal
  • Limit the use of one vehicle to ensure that different methods are used for different parts of your network
  • Schedule touchpoints when it is feasible to do so
  • Understand technology that is available to you
  • Cross-pollinate your network to see real gains
  • Continue to grow your network so it does not go stale

If you can take the time to understand a little about your network, it can bring real benefit in many areas. In this world of connectivity, if your PMO has a large network you should be utilising it to get the best experience for the team and yourself. Not just to get the highest number of connections on LinkedIn!

You can read a blog from Elise Stevens from Fix My project Chaos on the wider principle, PMO are Integrators.

Never Burn Any Bridges

Firstly, and most importantly, your colleagues are a great place to start building your network. These people are within your field and will likely know more people in the same arena. They may know of courses and events that you can attend. Reach out to your team and find out how they network. In this era of freelancing and flexible working, your colleagues may not be your colleagues for as long as you think, and so, in turn, may become part of your more comprehensive network.

Two Birds, One Stone

Courses within your discipline are great ways to network and meet others who have similar backgrounds while also learning a new skill or becoming further qualified in your field. Ensure you contact your fellow delegates after the course; get their contact details, add them on LinkedIn, and include them in your networking plan.

Recommended PMO/Project Management courses:

Leverage Technology

Use technology to your advantage, especially given our current situation of working remotely. The most apparent go-to platform for online networking is LinkedIn. Make sure that your profile is up-to-date and on-point. Find a handful of relevant people within your industry to contact and send them a private message. Join LinkedIn Groups that are relevant to your discipline and get involved in discussions; some PMO/Project Management LinkedIn groups I would recommend are:

Networking Events

There are many networking events out there, so ask Google. Below is a list of networking events aligned to the PMO/Project Management industry. Take a look; some of these events are now offering virtual alternatives:

Book recommendations

Reading is a fantastic way to learn more about any topic or skill. Below is a list of the books I would recommend that focus on how to start networking and then network effectively:

PMO as a network

PMOs are usually the hub of an organisation or a programme. This means that to be successful, the PMO must be a central point of communication and well-known within the organisation. It’s so important that the PMO creates solid working relationships, both within the Business and the wider Project Management community.

No matter the level of PMO (Enterprise through to Project), communication and networking within the organisation are essential to its success. From my experience, it can also be highly beneficial to all involved to foster relationships with the business and other PMOs, sharing knowledge and expertise and working together to streamline and enhance ways of working, sharing best practices to save time and making those cost efficiencies.

PMO practitioners should be proactive and well-versed in networking, never burning bridges, and ensure a strong rapport between all stakeholders within their network and solid positive working relationships. PMOs should also use learning and professional development as opportunities to build, develop, and enhance the project management community, both internally and externally, within the organisation. PMOs can also leverage technology (such as using Microsoft Project for the web) to enhance collaboration between teams at work and create an internal network. The PMO can also improve collaboration by holding central internal events for Project Managers to share best practices.

PMO Practitioners can use the skills galvanised through networking to enhance a company’s internal ways of working and their professional network. Either way, network like a Pro or a PMO, and you’ll quickly start to find and own that room!

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Monthly Newsletter

By: Emma Arnaz-Pemberton

Emma Arnaz-Pemberton
Consulting Director FAPM, MCMI, MPMI, MIoD PMO-CC, MoR, MSP, PRINCE2
Categories: Consulting, PMO

Published: 26 November 2020

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